Rugby Union

Former ACT Brumbies forward Peter Kimlin wanted to come home for World Cup bid

Peter Kimlin wanted a return to the Brumbies.
Peter Kimlin wanted a return to the Brumbies. 

Former ACT Brumby Peter Kimlin was prepared to take a pay cut to return to Australian rugby and revive his World Cup hopes this year.

But salary cap pressure in Canberra torpedoed his hopes of a Brumbies comeback and the versatile second-rower says he will almost certainly finish his career in France.

Kimlin also has a warning for any Australian players looking for an easy cash grab in Europe after the World Cup: be prepared for the hardest work of your career.

The Canberra junior signed an extended deal with Grenoble after negotiations with the Brumbies fell over when the club re-signed its Wallabies players on upgraded contracts.

Kimlin, who played 77 games for the Brumbies and two Tests for Australia, admitted it was tough knowing he would likely never play Super Rugby again.

"I didn't want to play for anyone else except the Brumbies," Kimlin said.

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"I was happy to come back on a standard amount or even less, but things didn't really work out. I was disappointed … I had my mind set on coming back [to Australia].

"I knew signing over here would put me out of contention for the World Cup and that's something I have to live with for the rest of my life. Things happen for a reason and I'm happy here now."

Kimlin was viewed as Ben Mowen's replacement, but the Brumbies had to juggle increased pay packets for all of their Wallabies representatives, including Sam Carter, Henry Speight, Nic White and Matt Toomua.

The 29-year-old said it took him time to adjust to the French style of rugby, where players are rested on occasional road trips to cope with a long schedule.

There is a view that Australia's top talent sign rich deals in France for an easier lifestyle.

But Kimlin said Grenoble would play at least 26 games in a season – 10 more than Super Rugby – and more than 40 if making the finals in the Top 14 and European Cup.

Kimlin sacrificed his Wallabies ambitions to stay in Grenoble for at least two more years and doesn't expect to return to Australia until after he retires.

He is one of several top-line players – including Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Digby Ioane – who were lured away from Australia by rich French clubs.

Kimlin forecast an exodus from Australian rugby after the World Cup if the ARU relaxed its eligibility rules that requires players to remain in Super Rugby if they want to play for the Wallabies.

"There will be some guys who are just chasing the money and yes they're getting paid more money here than in Australia," Kimlin said. "I didn't realise how many games you play over here, it takes a massive toll mentally.

"Every rugby player wants the chance to travel … the big drawcard back home is to represent the Wallabies. If they relax their rules, there could be the mass exodus. That's something they have to juggle."

Kimlin courageously played with a broken thumb in the 2013 Super Rugby grand final and the same injury ended his hopes of joining the Wallabies for their end-of-season Tests last year.

He is working to overcome a medial ligament injury which has kept him sidelined for the past six weeks. One of the biggest adjustments Kimlin said he had to make was organising some of his own rehabilitation.

"I was at the Brumbies for eight years and everything's given to you on a silver plate, but over here you organise your own stretch sessions and some medical," Kimlin said.

Kimlin is content in France and is enjoying the chance to learn a new culture and rugby style with Grenoble alongside fellow former Brumbies Ben Hand, Henry Vanderglas, Anthony Hegarty and Jono Owen.

"By the time you're 29 or 30 you're pretty ancient back home … I'd be open to a chance [to come back] but as a player I find it highly unlikely to be back."