Rugby Union

French raid on Brumbies continues as Jordan Smiler quits Super Rugby

CAPE TOWN: ACT Brumbies second-rower Jordan Smiler will join the French revolution of Australian players, quitting Super Rugby at the end of the season to sign with a second division French team.

In a demonstration of the threat that Australian rugby faces, Smiler has signed with second division French club Nevers in a bid to break into France's Top 14 competition.

Jordan Smiler will quit the ACT Brumbies at the end of the season to play in France.
Jordan Smiler will quit the ACT Brumbies at the end of the season to play in France. Photo: Jay Cronan

Smiler is the latest Brumby to commit to a lucrative deal overseas as the club fights to keep its playing roster together.

Australian Wallabies representatives Nic White and Jesse Mogg are leaving the Brumbies at the end of the season to join French club Montpellier, which already boasts former Brumbies coach Jake White and captain Ben Mowen.

It is understood Brumbies forward Fotu Auelua is also set to move to Europe.

The Brumbies also have to fend off approaches from rivals within Super Rugby.

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Brumbies prop Ruan Smith is being pursued by the NSW Waratahs and South African teams, while twin brother Jean-Pierre is weighing up his future.

The Brumbies hope to re-sign Wallabies forwards David Pocock and Ben Alexander in coming weeks.

Smiler said the opportunity to test himself in the French competition was too good to turn down.

"I love it in Canberra and at the Brumbies … but if I stayed I'd be in the same position I am now, on the bench," Smiler said.

"We've got such good back-rowers at the Brumbies. I'm getting a bit older, I've only got limited years to make a career to set my family up.

"It's a great opportunity to experience new and different things and give myself a challenge. I'm not going over to die off, I feel like I can still build and go further."

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is negotiating with a host of players to keep the core of his squad together in Canberra.

Wallabies veteran prop Alexander qualifies for the ARU's new eligibility rules, which would allow him to play club rugby abroad without sacrificing his Test ambitions given his eight years and 72 Tests for Australia.

The ARU wanted Pocock to play half of the Super Rugby season to prove he had overcome his knee problems, which included two reconstructions in two years, before offering him a deal.

"We're very desperate to [keep Pocock], first you want to make sure they want to stay and he has indicated he's keen," Larkham said.

"He wants to stay and have success down here. We'll do everything to keep him. I think his performances speak for themselves and you've got to have him in Australian rugby."

Larkham is looking for at least five more recruits and re-signed Robbie Coleman and James Dargaville in the past week.

"Keeping the squad together is always going to be tough," Larkham said.

"We're lucky enough to have retained a lot of our core players. Jordy [Smiler] brings athleticism, physicality and precision to our forward pack. He's going to be hard to replace."

The Brumbies boast Wallabies Scott Fardy and Sam Carter in the second row with giant lock Rory Arnold stepping up this year and Ita Vaea returning from a heart condition.

"My role has been off the bench and I was keen to give myself a good crack to take the starting spot," Smiler said.

"But it was a 'what if?'. Everyone is fighting for a spot in the Brumbies team, which is good. The core of the guys will be here."