Melbourne Rebels back Tom English says Super Rugby uncertainty will create a player exodus, as the drama drags on.
With Australia’s clubs unable to officially sign non-ARU top-up players while the limbo continues, players are looking overseas and English said it was only natural that more would make the leap.
“The ARU needs to come out and make a decision. I’ve said this in the past, they’re playing with people’s lives,” he said.
“Rip the bandaid off because indecision is going to lead to more players leaving overseas.”
The 26-year-old has one more year on his contract, but said it was inevitable that some of his teammates without that certainty would leave Australia, with the window to sign abroad closing.
“Obviously players, regardless of whether a team is being cut or not, are looking overseas, that’s just the nature of the business,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if more players are doing so because at the end of the day that’s their job and if you cut down a team that’s 30 less jobs available, so you’ve just got to have a plan otherwise you’ll be left with nothing.”
English said he was confident it would be the Rebels still in Super Rugby, with legal battles delaying the final decision on whether to cut the Melbourne side or WA’s Force.
“Your job as a professional player first and foremost is to focus on the game at hand.
“That’s not to say it doesn’t play on your mind.
“We’ve got confidence in our owner Andrew Cox - he’s come and spoken to us and consolidated us on our future as a club.
English said the form of Shute Shield players Will Miller and Hugh Sinclair, who were drafted in as injury cover in recent weeks, should dispel the perception that Australian rugby lacks depth.
“There’s been a lot of chat about Australian rugby not having any depth but you just have to look to Shute Shield and see players like Will Miller and Hugh Sinclair...who’s really shown they can mix it with the best of them,” he said.
“It’s an exciting thing for Australian rugby and I think it’ll quieten those comments (that have been) coming.
“It’s really exciting to see and I think they’ll be doing a great job for us and you’ll be seeing them the next couple of weeks at all.”
The Rebels have a monster task ahead of them this weekend facing South Africa 1 conference leaders the Lions, after a 44-3 thrashing at the hands of the Kings, another team working under a looming Super Rugby axe.
English said the team missed experienced heads like former playmaker Mike Harris, now playing the Top 14, an absence that showed as senior players took injury hits this year.
The Rebels host the Lions on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.