Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham says he is “confident” of retaining Liam Gill despite a report claiming the flanker will only stay put if there is a change of coach next season.
Gill has been one of Queensland’s best performers amidst a forgettable Super Rugby campaign and was again a standout in Friday night’s big win over the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium.
But speaking on Fox Sports after the match, Gill admitted speculation linking him to a move to Melbourne next year is “real” and said he had some tough decisions to make regarding his future over the coming weeks.
On Sunday, a News Corp report claimed that the only chance the Reds had of retaining Gill was if Graham, who is out of contract at the end of the season and is currently in a scrap to save his coaching career, doesn’t survive.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with Liam and that’s certainly not been in any of the conversations,” Graham said on Monday.
“I haven’t read the paper for about three months so I’m not quite sure what was written, but I think a win like that on Friday night is good for everyone.”
Despite Gill’s outstanding form, the Melbourne-born, Adelaide-raised flanker faces two almost insurmountable obstacles to realising his World Cup dream – Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
In light of his competition for the Wallabies No.7 jersey, there is the alternate possibility that Gill could switch to rugby sevens in a bid to make next year’s Rio Olympics.
Regardless, Graham remains steadfast in his belief that Gill will remain at Ballymore in 2016 and beyond.
“I’m not surprised by the length of negotiations. They’re always long,” Graham said.
“For the last couple of years I’ve said I think he’s the best number seven in the country for his all-round performance.
“His performances this year have been very good.
“Number seven’s obviously a hotly-contested spot in Australia but there’s young number sevens coming up in Queensland, NSW, all across the country every year.
“Certainly he’s one we want to keep.”