Norton-Knight’s Tah departure opens the door for Mitchell

Waratahs fullback Sam Norton-Knight has revealed his plans to leave New South Wales in order to take up a contract with the Cardiff Blues in Wales.

Norton-Knight’s departure opens a vacancy at full back for Force backliner Drew Mitchell who has expressed an interest in leaving the club now that Giteau will move to the Brumbies in 2010.

Twenty five year old Norton-Knight has yet to put pen to paper for the lucrative three-year contract that Cardiff have offered him but he hopes to sign it before Friday’s clash against the Highlanders at the SFS in Sydney.

“It looks like I am going,” he told Rugby Heaven yesterday after being named at No.15 in the Waratahs side.

“I am looking at a draft contract. Nothing has been signed yet, but we will line something up.”

With Norton-Knight heading for Wales the Waratahs will need a replacement full back and coach Chris Hickey says that Mitchell is definitely in his sights.

The Force have built up an admirable list of talent but 17 of their current players are coming off contract this year and Mitchell is one of them.

The Waratahs will face a fight to get Mitchell as the Brumbies are also keen to sign the player who moved to Perth in order to play with Giteau.

Competition for the Brumbies No.15 jersey is tough though as Mark Gerrard started the season strongly and Adam Ashley-Cooper was the Wallabies’ preferred fullback last year. Mitchell however could find a move to Canberra more attractive than Sydney because of his close friendship with Giteau.

Tahs coach Hickey says he is keen to meet Mitchell as soon as possible and no later than April 18, when the Force come to Sydney for the round-10 clash against the Waratahs.

“We would like the opportunity to talk to him. If he is interested, he would fit in very well at the Waratahs,” Hickey said, adding that Force midfielder James O’Connor was also of interest.

Norton-Knight is coming to the end of a two year deal with the Waratahs and he said that a big factor in the decision to pursue his career in Wales was the opportunity to play five-eighth.

“It would be easy to stay here,” he said. “I am enjoying the footy.”he added.

“I am enjoying it at the Waratahs but I am at a time of my life where I have to look at what I am doing. This is an opportunity to get a bit closer to the footy, the ruck, a bit closer to the game.

“I will get a chance to play 10. If I chose to move, that’s definitely a part of why I am. I enjoy playing fullback [with the Waratahs].

” I am not bitter about that or anything, but I would still like to give myself a bit of a test at 10. So that is really what the move is about.”

Norton-Knight moved to the Waratahs from the Brumbies has 48 Super rugby caps but he is not worried that a move to Wales will end his Wallaby prospects largely because he feels that he doesn’t have much of a Wallaby career.

He has picked up just two Test caps since his debut against Wales in 2007. Last year he was not selected by the Wallabies and he doesn’t believe he is in Robbie Deans’ plans for Australia.

“There were a lot of guys picked last year and I wasn’t one of them,” Norton-Knight said.

“I don’t expect him to change too much on that front. “I don’t see myself pushing for a Wallabies selection.

“That is a lot of guys’ ambition for playing Super 14. If I can present someone with an opportunity like that, that’s great.”

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