Abbott cracks the A list

South African-born England international Stuart Abbott will join the ranks of highest paid players in the English Premiership after signing a contract in excess of R2million to join Harlequins.

The English glamour club, relegated a year ago, have dominated the first division and will return to the Premiership next season. And Abbott is the first big name signing in a deal that puts him in the Jonny Wilkinson and Carlos Spencer bracket for players contracted for more than 200 000 pounds.

The London Evening Standard reported that Abbott, who made his name at Wasps, received a once in a lifetime offer.

All 12 Premiership clubs have agreed to operate within an agreed salary cap of around 2 million pounds per season. However, the retirement of England World Cup-winning centre Will
Greenwood and the return of skipper Andre Vos to South Africa mean funds are available to contract Abbott.

Quins, for whom former All Black flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens also plays, are also trying to lure Leeds’s All Blacks scrumhalf Justin Marshall. The latter has a clause that allows him to leave Leeds if they are relegated.