Thursday’s rugby news has the Tahs losing Potgieter, White’s position in jeopardy, Gill turning to 7s possibly and a major English injury blow.
Potgieter heading home
Jacques Potgieter will return to South Africa in 2016, citing family reasons for his decision to leave the Waratahs. ARU rules dictate that marquee players such as the South African flanker can only be signed for two seasons, but clubs can apply for a one-year extension if it can be shown that there is no impact on the development of local players.
“We couldn’t be more impressed with what Jacques has done on the field and off the field for us,” coach Michael Cheika said. “But with players coming from overseas, they’ve got to be happy away from home, I have played overseas and I know that it can be difficult.” The Tahs already lost Wycliff Palu to a lucrative overseas contract and notably failed to sign Ben McCalman, meaning that their back-row depth will be tested next year.
White feeling the pressure
Nic White has conceded that the ARU’s new eligibility rules will put his World Cup hopes in jeopardy, but has said that he is determined to nonetheless totally focus on his last five games of Super Rugby. The versatility of former Wallaby and current Toulon star Matt Giteau has led to suggestions that Test coach Michael Cheika may forgo selecting a third specialist halfback.
The Brumbies halfback will have to battle it out with Nick Phipps and Will Genia if that is the case. “It doesn’t change the way I play or the way I prepare,” White said. “I’ve had a think about it and you prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” White returns to the starting line-up for ACT this week after three weeks off with an ankle injury
Gill contemplating Rio switch
Liam Gill may forgo next season of Super Rugby to play with the Sevens squad at next year’s Rio Olympics. While Gill has played well in a dismal Queensland team, it is unlikely that he will be picked ahead of other Wallaby 7 candidates Michael Hooper and David Pocock.
Gill emphasised his positive experience at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “Commonwealth Games was extraordinary. Olympics would be ridiculous,” he said. “It’s a very hard decision to make. I still think I have a lot to offer in the 15-man game, both provincially and at Test level.” Sevens coach Geraint John will require potential 15-a-side inclusions to commit fairly soon, wanting his squad settled early in 2016.
Tuilagi in RWC doubt
Manu Tuilagi remains a major doubt for England’s World Cup campaign because of injury, Leicester’s director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, has said. Tuilagi has been hampered by a groin strain sustained in October and missed targets for a return in December, January and February because of the continuing nature of the problem.
Now Cockerill has confirmed that Tuilagi will not play again this season and is unlikely to be fully fit until June, the same month as England’s World Cup training camp. Cockerill has also re-emphasised that England’s policy of not selecting players based abroad is the right one even if they are performing at a world-class level.