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Opinion

K-E-A-R-N-S spells Vaughan

Once upon a time, when Australia's rugby union team were world champions, Phil Kearns was a key member of the Wallabies side. But these days his talents are benefiting the South Africans. Last month, the former Aussie captain and hooker joined Investec in Sydney to work as a private banker, using his sporting profile to attract new business. Investec Bank (Australia) chairman Geoff Levy is reported to have wooed Kearns from his position as head of a human resources consultancy firm. It isn't the first time Levy has asked Australian rugby players to sign up with him. In the mid-1990s, he teamed up with Wallabies prop Ross Turnbull, with the partial backing of Australian media mogul Kerry Packer, to establish the short-lived World Rugby Corporation. A rival to Rupert Murdoch's Super League, the corporation tried to sign up Aussie, New Zealand and South African players to broadcasting contracts.

Despite Kearns' high-profile career, not everyone has heard of him, it seems. More than 50 attempts by Euromoney's multi-accented Australian, South African, English, and American employees to reach him using Investec's out-of-hours voice-recognition operator proved fruitless, with the system offering "Paul Cooper" and "Karen Vaughan" as the closest matches.

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