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Rugby Union: WRU CUTTING THEIR THROATS WITH STAR BAN.

Byline: HUGH STEPHENS

NEWPORT owner Tony Brown last night warned the Welsh Rugby Union they will be cutting their own throats if they try to ban overseas stars like Percy Montgomery.

As the Springbok star finally arrived at Rodney Parade, the man who has dug deep to bring some of the world's best players to the domestic Welsh game blasted the Union for a lack of leadership and vision.

Montgomery is set to make his Newport debut with a cameo appearance as a replacement at Swansea tomorrow, but he will then have to sit on his hands until December, while there are huge doubts over his availability next season - along with other overseas stars.

With the club game set to go down either a provincial or super-club route, there are many in the WRU who want to restrict teams to Welsh-qualified players only.

But Brown - who revitalised Newport with the masterstroke signing of Montgomery's fellow South African Gary Teichmann - insisted: "Overseas players are hugely beneficial to Welsh rugby.

"They add variety and stimulate interest. If the WRU try to ban them altogether they would be cutting the ground from under themselves.

"There may be a need for certain restrictions, but I've not sought any guarantees from the WRU. I gave that up long ago.

"Neither can we wait and try to anticipate what they might do. It's like trying to read the future from examining the entrails of a chicken."

Even if the WRU try to drive out the foreigners, Brown insisted all their contracts would be honoured.

"Newport and every other club has a responsibility to honour all the contracts. We cannot walk away from those contractual responsibilities.

"But for the next two-and-a-half years we have a player on our books in Monty who is world class and has a massive reputation and I'm sure the fans can't wait to see him."

Montgomery, 28, has turned his back on Test rugby after 50 Springbok caps to accept Newport's offer of pounds 300,000.

The former Western Province full-back revealed that former Boks skipper Teichmann had played a big part in his decision.

Montgomery said: "Gary spoke very highly about this club and urged me to come over. I needed a fresh challenge and that is what Newport have offered."

Montgomery won most of his 50 caps at full-back, but has also played at outside-half for his province and South Africa.

Newport, who have won just two matches this season, may look to use him at No.10 by switching former Wales full-back Shane Howarth to No.15.

As the WRU continue to ponder next season's structure they last night confirmed the appointment of the man who will play a key role in overseeing the changes.

David Moffett, born in England but raised in Australia, has been appointed group chief executive on pounds 150,000 a year.

Moffett was formerly chief executive of Sport England and also headed-up the Tri-Nations in the southern hemisphere.

CAPTION(S):

NEW BOY: Percy Montgomery (left) is welcomed by Newport skipper Simon Raiwalui
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 1, 2002
Words:508
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