Liam Gill might be off to France at the end of the year but injured Queensland Reds captain James Slipper expects he will be back at Ballymore before his career is over.
Reigning club best and fairest Gill, a 15-cap Wallaby, is in his final season with the Reds, revealing last week he will join a growing contingent of Australian players at glamour club Toulon in 2017.
The 23-year-old reportedly made the decision after being overlooked as stand-in skipper for Slipper, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, while Gill’s contract with the Reds is not being topped up by extra funds from the Australian Rugby Union.
Gill’s departure will also rob the Wallabies of a key option at No.7, especially if David Pocock takes a one-year break from rugby next year as is being discussed.
“There’s always disappointment when players leave the club,” Slipper said at Queensland’s fan day on Sunday.
“But in saying that, Gilly’s done a lot for the club.
“He always plays with his body on the line and gives it all.
“Those sort of decisions come down to the player themselves, and he’s chosen to go that way.
“But I’m sure it’s not the last time we see him in a Queensland jersey.”
Gill is expected to be fit for the Reds’ Super Rugby opener against the Waratahs in two weeks, despite going off with what looked like a serious shoulder injury during Friday night’s last pre-season trial against the Brumbies.
Gill lasted just 15 minutes before he came off clutching his shoulder following a collision with Joe Tomane, but has pulled up better than expected.
Doctors have cleared him of serious injury and see no need to send him off for scans.
“Gilly’s a very important player in our team, I think having someone like him with his experience going into that first round will be really good for us,” Slipper said.
“We’re pretty confident as a team he’ll be right.
“I think we’re just going to keep an eye on it but we’ll have a better idea of the extent of the injury tomorrow.”