Exclusive: Brumbies set to swoop on Slipper

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Brumbies are set to swoop on exiled Reds star James Slipper.

RUGBY.com.au can reveal the ACT club is leading the race to secure Slipper's services for 2019 after negotiations with the Rebels stalled in recent weeks.

The 86-Test prop met with Brumbies coach Dan McKellar while in Canberra at the weekend with Queensland Country to discuss a potential move south.

A spot on the ACT roster recently opened up by the retirement of front row stalwart and former Wallaby Ben Alexander.

The Brumbies already have some depth at loosehead in Test star Scott Sio but Slipper would be a valuable addition to their squad - particularly if he is a bargain recruit.

Slipper is currently in the same boat as Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt at Ballymore.Slipper met with Brumbies coach Dan McKellar at the weekend. Photo: Getty ImagesEffectively unwanted by coach Brad Thorn after already serving a two month suspension for positive cocaine tests, his two-year contract is now unfavourable for all parties.

The QRU are keen to clear at least a portion of his $500,000 salary from their books and Slipper has already indicated he won't take the same approach to exile as Cooper and Hunt, who have been content playing club football this season.

"I’d prefer not to be (playing club rugby next year)," Slipper said when asked about the possibility in August.

"Whether I stay or not, it will be tough.

Slipper is currently contracted to the Reds until the end of 2020. Photo: Getty Images"It'd be tough to go back, it'd be tough to stay and it'd be tough to go.

"Any option would be pretty hard."

Slipper, 29, has shown since returning from suspension - in the Wallabies' trial and in round one of the NRC - that he still has plenty of good footy in him. 

Sources at the QRU are quietly confident of getting a deal done, thereby clearing some salary space on their books.

But how much of that cash will be transferred to the Brumbies' cap remains a sticking point and forms the main component of ongoing negotiations between the parties.

Either way, it's understood Queensland will not stand in Slipper's way if and when he requests a move away from the club for next season.

A source at the Brumbies confirmed the meeting with McKellar and said talks were underway.