Lions the lure as Wallabies skipper Slipper extends contract

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - International - Scotland v Australia - Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain - October 29, 2022 Australia's James Slipper celebrates with the trophy after the match REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Wallabies captain James Slipper has extended his contract with Rugby Australia for another two years in a bid to play in a second British and Irish Lions series in 2025.

If he achieves his goal, the 127-test prop looks set to pass Stephen Moore (129) and George Gregan (139) to move to the top of the list of most capped Australian players.

“I hope I’ve got the gas in the tank,” the 34-year-old told reporters in Canberra on Friday.

“I’m signing until the Lions, nothing past that. If I got the opportunity to play in another Lions series, it’d be massive because I had so much fun in the 2013 series.

“It’s just such a big occasion for rugby in our country and, yeah, to have the opportunity to be a part of it would be massive.”

Slipper, who can play on both sides of the front row, featured in all three tests off the bench as the Lions beat Australia 2-1 in the 2013 series.

The Queenslander was handed the Wallabies captaincy by now departed coach Dave Rennie last season when Michael Hooper walked out on the team on the eve of the Rugby Championship.

Eddie Jones, who replaced Rennie in January, has yet to announce who will lead the Wallabies into this year’s World Cup in France but clearly sees Slipper as an integral part of his squad.

“James is a world class prop who epitomises what it means to be a Wallaby,” Jones said in a news release.

“He’s a strong leader within the group and someone who will be important for the team moving forward.”¬†¬†Being handed the test captaincy last year was quite a turnaround for a player who left the Queensland Reds in ignominy after serving a two-month ban for testing positive for cocaine in 2018.

Slipper subsequently moved south to the ACT Brumbies, where he set about resurrecting his career.

“I’m a loyal bloke and the Brumbies have shown a lot of faith in me so I’m more than happy to repay that,” he said.

“Canberra is a home for me now, and I’m loving my rugby.”

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