Tuesday’s Rugby News looks at Rennie’s pitch for changes to the Giteau law, Michael Hooper’s future as Wallabies captain, Beale’s early exit and the Force’s future beyond 2020.
New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is looking to tweak the controversial ‘Giteau Law’ as a potential exodus looms.
Rennie faced the media on Monday as he continues to quarantine in New Zealand, preparing to officially start as coach in July.
With a host of potential selections looking to say Au Revoir to Australian rugby, the former Glasgow boss has adamantly ruled out selecting players from European competitions, citing the differences in style and training protocols.
“You have to be able to compare apples with apples and playing in France is very different,” he believes.
“We have no influence over how they’re training or what they’re doing. They pick a lot of big men and while they have some excellent clubs it’s very different training-wise.
“There’s not a lot of time on the grass or emphasis around skill set and conditioning. We have minimal influence over those players while they’re away.
“Having been up there the last three years, I’ve got a pretty good idea about how a lot of those French clubs train and so on.”
Whilst he refuses the idea of picking players from Europe, Rennie has proposed the idea of including teams from Japan in a revised Super Rugby competition, allowing players to earn big money whilst not giving their dreams of representing their country,
“Who knows what the future holds around Super Rugby but the question could be, what if there were Japanese clubs involved in the competition and if some of our top players were in Japan?” he ponded.
“We’ve certainly got players playing in that competition and whether that would make them eligible for selections (is worth considering) because you can compare apples with apples,
“If we had a Wallaby playing for the Blues, for example, we get to see him playing against the best Aussies.
“From a selection point of view that makes sense.
“Best case scenario is we have them here, helping our young kids develop, good players around them and helping our Super Rugby guys around.”
The Wallabies captaincy is up for grabs.
That’s the message being flouted by Dave Rennie as he prepares to take over as Wallabies coach, leaving incumbent Michael Hooper’s future in limbo.
As the Australian Super Rugby clubs prepare for their return to action, Rennie has made it clear that whilst Hooper remains the front-runner, he admits that he will look to pick the best side available before dishing out the captain’s armband.
“We haven’t spoken about captaincy at all,” he told media.
“I’ve spoken to Hoops a lot on various things but all we’ve talked about at the moment is earning the right to play.
“So, it’s about playing well enough to win the jersey and then we’ll sort out who captain will be.
“Clearly he’s not doing it at the Waratahs and that’s been good for his game to be honest, I think he’s played really well.
“He’s still leading no doubt, just hasn’t got the (c) next to his name.
“He’s a strong contender for captain but we haven’t firmed up any decisions around that and we’ll work out what the team is first and then we’ll select the captain but there’s lots of good leaders in amongst that group.”
One player who had loomed as a future captain was Reds lock Izack Rodda before he decided to leave for France.
Whilst Rennie was disappointed with his decision, he revealed that he remains in constant contact with the 23-year-old as he looks to convince him to return at the end of his short-term deal.
“I’ve spoken a lot to Izack,” he said.
“I had a good chat to him last week. He’s gone and the whole situation was really messy and I think could’ve been handled a lot better, so it’s disappointing.
“He’s signed a 12-month deal, so it doesn’t mean the door is shut on him to come back.
“It was very messy, but if you do right by your players some of those guys come back because they know they’ve been looked after in the past.”
Bye Bye Beale
Waratahs and Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale looks set to make an early departure from Australian rugby as he prepares for life in France.
According to the Herald, Beale is no longer part of the Waratahs set-up, with the 31-year-old’s management putting in a release request to the club and RA in order allow him to freshen up before joining Racing 92 in France.
The report suggests that the utility back has not been at training with the Waratahs all week, with the club putting it down to flu-like symptoms on Friday.
However, this claim by the Tahs was blown wide open when the fullback was spotted playing hooky at a boat party organised by broadcaster and former Wallabies coach Alan Jones.
As of last month, Beale revealed that he was still eager to play for the Tahs whilst looking forward to the new challenge in Paris.
“It’s going to be fun and a new chapter for me with my fiancee,” he told David Campese’s podcast.
“It’s important to make sure now we’re giving everything to the Tahs and I still haven’t retired from international rugby, so I’m going to put my hand up 100 per cent.
“I’m only 31. I still think I have a lot to give to the game.”
One challenge that he will need to solve before getting over there is to learn the name of his new coach, which he couldn’t name when pressed about it.
“That’s a tough question mate…I don’t know the name of him,” he said.
With Beale’s departure expected to be confirmed by the club during the week, it leaves captain Michael Hooper as the winner of Survivor: 2014 Super Rugby Champions edition.
Along with Beale’s departure, Rebels lock Luke Jones, also bound for Racing 92, is also set to depart Melbourne without playing in Super Rugby AU.
Whilst the Western Force’s reunion with the East Coast Mafia in the Super Rugby Australia competition is only short-term, new chairman Hamish McLennan is looking to ensure their presence will continue beyond 2020.
As RA decides on where the future of the Super Rugby lies, the leading candidate so far is a trans-Tasman tournament with the potential for teams from Japan and the Pacific to join depending on COVID conditions.
One team that McLennan is confident that will be involved is the Force, who flouted the importance of having a Western Australian influence in the rugby and sporting landscape.
“The team construct still has to be decided,” McLennan said via ABC News.
“I’d like to think the Western Force could be in there. I think Twiggy Forrest has been terrific to me over the last couple of weeks.
“I think West Australian representation is really important…so it would be nice if we had five teams but it’s too early to say.”
With the coronavirus still hitting South Africa and Argentina hard, McLennan is eager to lock in a competition with NZ sooner rather than later, hopefully of etching out a deal over the next two months.
“If it’s to happen with New Zealand, we need to decide it all in the next four to six weeks,” he said.
“There are a lot of things up in the air because of the pandemic. Our desire is to do something with New Zealand. We’re having some informal conversations with the Kiwis at the moment.
“We think a cross-Tasman competition given the pandemic and the fact we’re lucky to be living in this part of the world … if we can do something between the two countries that would be ideal.”