Former Wallaby, Western Force and NSW Waratahs utility back Cameron Shepherd has launched legal proceedings against UK rugby club Northampton Saints over a contract dispute.
Shepherd, who subsequently signed with another English club, Sale Sharks, signed a heads of agreement and later a full contract with the club in May.
Northampton later terminated the contract on grounds that Shepherd had failed a medical due to the condition of his left ankle.
Shepherd’s Australian-based agent Nick Fordham said in a statement he was “appalled at the behaviour of Northampton in respect of the manner in which his client and family were treated.”
“Expert medical reports from leading independent orthopaedic surgeons and Cameron’s former club doctors at the Western Force have concluded that there is nothing wrong with Cameron’s ankle,” he said.
“Having subsequently passed a medical and signed with the Sale Sharks proves there are huge holes all through Northampton’s action and position”.
Fordham said Shepherd was only advised by Northampton of the medical results three days before his departure for the UK – and a month after he undertook the medical.
The gifted Shepherd debuted for the NSW Waratahs as a 20-year-old and, after being picked for Australia two years later, he won the last of his nine caps for the Wallabies in 2010.
He has spent long periods on the sidelines in recent seasons, with groin and wrist injuries restricting him to just two games for the Force in 2012.
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder defended the decision to withdraw Shepherd’s contract last week.
“We obviously monitored Cameron’s condition between signing his contract and his scheduled arrival and, after great consideration, felt that on balance we needed more certainty about his ability to handle the tough demands of our long season for the duration of his three-year contract,” Mallinder said.
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