David Kelso


winger Ally Common is on the verge of clinching a deal to join Italian glamour team Benetton Treviso, it was revealed yesterday, writes David Kelso.

The former Glasgow Hawks player was approached after failing to earn a new contract with Edinburgh Reivers, and he is expected to put pen to paper within the next week in the hope of reviving his career in the European Cup.

Treviso general manager Fabrizio Gaetanielo said: ''We have been watching Ally for some time and it is clear that he is the kind of player we want in our threequarter line. Our talks with his London agent are progressing and we anticipate a mutually satisfactory conclusion very soon.''

Scotland sevens squad member Common was yesterday spectating at the Jerusalem tournament and unavailable for comment, but it is believed that he is keen to secure the Treviso deal, which would run for three years.

Gaetanielo also revealed that he had swooped for Richmond scrum-half Andy Moore as a replacement for Italian internationalist Alexander Troncon, who has moved to France.

In addition, Treviso are holding onto South African back-row forward Adriaan Richter.

Edinburgh Reivers chief executive Nick Oswald said: ''Sadly, we were unable to offer Ally a renewal to his contract with us.

''He has kept us informed about his approaches from Treviso and we hope he is able to get his immediate future sorted out as soon as possible.''

Oswald will announce today that two of his high profile players have rejected lucrative offers from outside Scotland and will stay with the superteam next term.

qScotland and Bath prop David Hilton, expected to play his rugby north of the border next season, has still not reached any deal with likely employer Glasgow Caledonians, writes Alan Lorimer.

''Nothing has been concluded yet. I hope that David Hilton will join us, but until a player has signed on the dotted line there is not a deal,'' said Reds chief executive David Jordan yesterday.

If Hilton signs for the Reds then it will mean that 23 of the targeted squad for next season will be in situ. ''We will still be looking for a few quality players and youthful talent as well,'' stated Jordan.

In particular, the Reds will be seeking a lock because of the likely move by Stuart Grimes to New-

castle. Another area that will be looked at carefully is the back row.

It is understood that 20 of the current squad of players have been offered extended contracts and that 12 of the 33 players on the current books will not be renewing contracts.

These however include Rob Wainwright who is retiring from the game, Kevin McKenzie and John Manson, who have been forced to retire because of injury, and John Leslie who is playing his rugby in Japan with the Sanix club.

Those players not returning will be available to play for the Reds up until the end of the Rugby World Cup. ''We will certainly use these players during the World Cup, when our squad will be depleted'' said Jordan.

Meanwhile, Richmond's Ben Clarke has been called up to the England squad in Australia. The back-rower joined the squad late on Wednesday. Clarke earned his thirty-ninth cap against Italy in the RWC qualifying tournament in November 1998.