Burke signs for Cardiff


Bristol have suffered a fresh blow three days before the start of the English season with the departure of Irish international out-half Paul Burke, who has joined the Welsh rebel club Cardiff.

Burke will be reunited with his former half-back partner Robert Jones, who also left Bristol this summer.

With Burke gone, relegated Bristol have no recognised goalkicker as they embark on their first season in Premiership Two. Burke said the cash-strapped club had offered him only a four-month contract that compared unfavourably with an "extremely attractive package" put together by Cardiff.

"I feel let down by the situation," said Burke. "The enthusiasm Cardiff showed in contrast to Bristol's attitude made my final decision very easy."

He is the second number 10 to have departed the Memorial Ground since the end of last season. In June the England international Josh Lewsey made an acrimonious exit on his way to Wasps.

Burke's move to the Arms Park is unlikely to make it any easier for him to add to his 10 caps in view of Cardiff's lack of meaningful fixtures. They face a season in limbo after pulling out of the Welsh Premiership along with Swansea and will be mainly dependent on "friendly" fixtures with English clubs.

Swansea are to defy the Welsh Rugby Union and play West Hartlepool in a friendly on Saturday. Baden Evans, Swansea's director of rugby, said: "We had a letter from the WRU informing us that we would not be given permission to play friendly fixtures against English clubs but we will be going ahead with our planned programme."

Another Burke, the Australian Matthew, will miss the Wallabies' autumn tour to Europe after dislocating a shoulder in scoring a match-winning try in last Saturday's Test win over New Zealand in Sydney. The New South Wales full-back, who played in the record 76-0 Test victory against England in Brisbane in June, will be out of action for around seven months while the shoulder undergoes a full reconstruction.

"I am very disappointed," said Burke. "I knew straight away that something was wrong - I didn't think it would be this bad."