Bath Star Hape in Talks over Move to Join Exiles

Article excerpt

Byline: Ian Stafford

SHONTAYNE HAPE, England's first-choice inside centre, has held talks with London Irish and is ready to leave Bath at the end of this season.

The West Country club appear resigned to losing their former Kiwi rugby league star, judging by the fact that they are close to signing Leicester and England centre Danny Hipkiss as a replacement.

Hape, 28, came to the England fore only last summer when he made a losing Test debut against Australia in Perth before playing his part in England's stunning second Test win in Sydney.

Since then, he has started in all four autumn Tests against Southern Hemisphere opposition and is highly favoured by the England management in tandem with outside centre Mike Tindall. He looks set to start against Wales on Friday night in Cardiff wearing the No 12 jersey.

Hape's gripe with Bath, who took him across the rugby codes in May 2008, is that he is forced to play outside centre, with Olly Barkley favoured at inside centre, even though the former Bradford Bull is selected at national level on the inside. …