"Ginger Ninja" Ed Quirk keen to extend Japanese stay
ED Quirk admits his former Queensland Reds teammates gave him "a bit of love" on his return to Suncorp Stadium last weekend, but the No.8 said he was keen to stay on with Japanese outfit, the Sunwolves.
The red-head, dubbed the "Ginger Ninja", told Australian Regional Media he was set to re-sign with the fledgling Super Rugby franchise.
"I signed just for a year, but I'm looking to stay," he said.
"We're in negotiations. I love it over there so why not?"
It has been a tough inaugural season for the Tokyo-based franchise, notching up just one win and a draw.
Apart from Quirk, the team has a real multi-cultural flavour, with players from New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa, America, Argentina, Samoa and Tonga, not to mention a liberal sprinkling of home-grown talent.
"They're just great boys (at the Sunwolves). There are heaps of nationalities, here but it doesn't really matter," he said.
Despite losing 35-25 to the Reds on Saturday, Quirk said he enjoyed the experience.
"It was good fun. I got touched up a few times but that's just how it is," he said.
All that matters little to the 24-year-old, who was cut by the Reds after two seasons interrupted by a serious knee injury.
One of the main attractions with his new team is the free-flowing style adopted by Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett, in comparison with the more-structured approach at the Reds.
"With the coaching analogy we're all here to play footy, so let's just get in amongst it and don't over-think it," Quirk said.
He even had his own fan base calling themselves "the Ginger Ninjas" for the clash against the Reds last weekend, with his brothers Alex, Edward and Will leading the charge.
That's not to mention the thousands of adoring Japanese fans he has converted because of his relentless on-field aggression.
"I'm loving it. The fans come out of nowhere and that's the good thing about it - it doesn't matter where you are," Quirk said.
"We had a short (pre-season) prep time which everyone talks about and it sucks to lose, but at the same time I'm having a blast."
Quirk's on-field performances have been outstanding too, playing all 11 games this season with 102 tackles, 53 ball carries and 13 breakdown turnovers won.
He will have to lead by example again when the team tackles a Brumbies outfit that includes former Reds teammates Aidan Toua and Jarrad Butler, in Canberra on Saturday night.
"I've got a few old mates down there," he said.
"I'm looking forward to ripping in down in Canberra."