Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Kepu pens two-year extension

Sekope Kepu is staying in Australia
Sekope Kepu is staying in Australia

Australia prop Sekope Kepu has re-signed with the Australian Rugby Union and the Waratahs until the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The New Zealand-born 27-year-old has played 23 Tests for the Wallabies since making his debut against Italy in 2008. Kepu revealed he received offers to head overseas but says unfinished business with both the national team and the Waratahs kept him on Australian soil.

"Going overseas was an option, but there's still much I want to achieve in Australia," Kepu said after signing a two-year contract extension.

"Attending the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand two years ago was a significant moment, but we didn't achieve all we wanted to at that tournament. There is still some unfinished business there. By staying in Australia, I can give myself another shot by aiming for the team for the next one in England in 2015."

The father of three says family considerations also weighed heavily on his decision.

"My family is well settled. We've just got a new baby and we all love living in Sydney," he said. "There's no place I'd rather be right now and for the next two and a half years, especially with a British and Irish Lions tour coming up in a couple of months. I'm desperate to be involved in that, to pull on the gold jersey again."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who introduced Kepu to the Test scene, says Kepu's ability to pack down on both sides of the scrum is a major asset to Australian rugby.

"Even allowing for the change in protocols which provides for two props on the bench, a player who can play both sides is a valuable commodity, and Keps has worked hard to put himself in that position," Deans said.

"The challenge is always there so he can't take anything for granted. He's experiencing that now at the Waratahs, with the emergence of genuine competition for spots, but that's a good thing and will bring the best out of him.

"The important thing is that he has re-signed. That action says he is up for it. Props are always in demand in Europe but re-committing says that Keps is seeking to get the best out of his Test career."

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