x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Vickerman to return home next year with one eye on Australia's World Cup squad

The former lock will finish university studies in England and has signed contracts with the Australian Rugby Union and the New South Wales Waratahs.

SYDNEY // Dan Vickerman, the former Australia lock, is to return to Australia from university studies in England and has signed with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and the New South Wales Waratahs. The ARU said yesterday that Vickerman had signed a three-year deal from 2011 to 2013 which could see him play in the Rugby World Cup next year in New Zealand, which would be his third world tournament.

Vickerman, 31, played 55 Tests for Australia before heading to England in 2008 to study agricultural economics at Cambridge University. He is expected to return in time for the latter stages of the expanded Super 15 club competition next year. He played four Tests under Robbie Deans, the Wallabies coach, in 2008. Vickerman said he looked forward to his return to Australia. "Rugby has given me the opportunity to play and study abroad, but next year is the right time to come back," Vickerman said in an ARU statement.

"I've been in communication with the coaching staff at the Waratahs and the Wallabies for a while now and collectively we're all on the same page in terms of where we want to be at and what we want to accomplish." Vickerman, who has been sidelined from rugby in recent months due to injury, will return to Australia on a full-time basis once he has finished his studies. "Dan will have to earn his place, as any player does, but his return to Australia is great news for the game and potentially the Wallabies," Deans said.

"We have some promising young locks emerging but you can't buy experience. Dan certainly brings that to the table." * Associated Press