Draft not the fix for Aussie Super franchises

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A Super Rugby draft would not be the solution to disseminate the talent pool in the long term.

The spread of talent across five franchises has been a point of contention in recent weeks, with a draft mooted as a potential solution.

The AFL is the only Australian elite competition to stage a draft, in a similar vein to USA’s NFL  and NBA.

ARU high performance manager Ben Whitaker, says good recruitment should be the first focus for sides, with good programs enough to lure talent.

Whitaker, who has managed the national talent pathway in recent years, said only providing a competitive environment would provide the equalisation that a draft does artificially.

“It shouldn’t matter where players go - great talent will always have a choice. A draft might force things a bit,” he said.

“With good coaches and strong environments, you create competition for that talent.

“Even with a draft, the AFL has full-on development programs and that’s where our focus should be.”

Whitaker pointed to the Rebels as a side who has recruited to their benefit in recent years, with a number of rookies and mature-aged recruits adding to their side.

“The Rebels have done a good job,” he said.

“They’ve got a consistently improving program and a young group in terms of Super Rugby caps.”

“You look at Reece Hodge - he’s been on the national radar since he was 15 and he’s had a few injuries but he’s got his opportunity and he’s making the most of it.”

As well as Hodge, a number of players have been blooded in 2016 who have bode their time in a Super Rugby franchise, including standout Waratahs backrower Jed Holloway and Reds hooker Andrew Ready, players that Whitaker said have rewarded the faith shown in them by coaches willing to give them a chance.

Former Waratahs and Brumbies backrower Stephen Hoiles said on rugby.com.au a draft would be a difficult proposition.

“You put a draft in you start to tell players where they should be playing,” he said.

“The benefits that AFL has with a draft is there’s no other competition in the world.

“So as soon as you start to put restrictions on a young guy that’s from the East coast he goes, ‘I’m going to go and play in France,’ and that’s the risk we take with a draft.

“I would like to fix the rugby programs before we do so.

Hoiles said before going down the path of a draft, it would be better to give Wallabies staff more of a say over what franchises do on-field.

“We have in my opinion a strong Wallabies coaching framework and that was similar to the Waratahs one the last couple of seasons,” he said.

“I’d like to see in a nation that fights above its weight for players and talent similar to the Irish Rugby Union you have to have control at the top.

“The Wallabies need to have more of a say over who’s coaching the five states and how they’re playing, because at the moment they’ve got very different styles of footy that are being played out there coming from our five teams and not many are successful.”