SYDNEY (Reuters) – Experienced Australia prop James Slipper will play for the ACT Brumbies next season, giving him a chance to revive his career after two failed cocaine tests earlier this year saw him frozen out at the Queensland Reds.
The 29-year-old loosehead, who has played 86 times for his country, was suspended for two months by Rugby Australia after twice testing positive for cocaine between February and May this year.
He subsequently revealed he had been battling mental health issues and, after starting treatment, returned to action for a Super Rugby select XV in a trial match against the Wallabies before the Rugby Championship.
“The Brumbies have always had a long history of making players better through their programme, so to get a chance to be a part of that is very exciting and something I am looking forward to,” Slipper said in a news release.
“I … cannot thank … the Brumbies organisation enough for the opportunity to take my rugby career forward with them.”
Slipper, who has signed a two-year deal, will face a battle for a starting role in Canberra with Scott Sio the incumbent loosehead in both the Brumbies and Wallabies front rows.
“We are excited to have a player of the calibre of James joining the Brumbies,” said Brumbies coach Dan McKellar.
“He brings very good set piece, physicality and raw aggression which are all qualities we look for in our front rowers.
“We also understand that the last 12 months have been a challenging time for James and his family.
“However, following several meetings and discussions with James it is clear he is in now in a very good head space and is highly motivated to get back to professional rugby and prove a point.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Frank Pingue)