Cameron Shepherd: Northampton Saints 'strongly refute' claims
Northampton Saints "strongly refute ... baseless assertions" made by Cameron Shepherd's agent, who is suing the club for pulling out of a deal to sign him.
The club announced in May that the 28-year-old would be moving to Franklin's Gardens on a three-year contract.
But earlier this month, they called off the deal citing "fitness concerns" and Shepherd joined Sale Sharks instead.
Shepherd's agent Nick Fordham said in a statement that he was "appalled at the behaviour of Northampton".
Saints say that "information about Shepherd's left ankle came to light" during his medical and, taking the advice of "one of the UK's leading ankle specialists", decided not to proceed with the contract - something they believe they were "well within its rights to do".
Furthermore, the club highlight the fact that Shepherd's move to Sale Sharks is "for one year and not three" and cite Bryan Redpath's comments regarding the player's fitness.
But Fordham's statement disagrees: "Expert medical reports from leading independent orthopaedic surgeons and Cameron's former club doctors at the Western Force have concluded that there is nothing wrong with Cameron's ankle.
"Having subsequently passed a medical and signed with the Sale Sharks proves there are huge holes all through Northampton's action and position."
Fordham also claims Shepherd, who was born in England but has nine caps for the Wallabies, was only told of their decision three days before he was due to leave Australia and a month after his medical had taken place.
"The club has leaned on a very loose medical clearance clause in the heads of agreement which is purely in the club's favour. This is now being scrutinised by the UK-based Rugby Players' Association.
"What's the point in having contracts where things can be completely fabricated to break contracts and then cause damage to one's professional reputation, as has happened in this instance?" his statement added.
The club insist that "the club's initial concerns were raised several weeks beforehand" and "there was direct communication with the player from [director of rugby Jim] Mallinder".
The club state that they will "vigorously defend any legal proceedings which are served."