Turinui tees off at ARU, RUPA over Super Rugby saga

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Rebels assistant coach Morgan Turinui has launched an extraordinary attack on the ARU and RUPA as speculation continues to shroud the club's future.

Turinui was not slated to speak to media today but he arrived at AAMI Park this morning fed up with "rumours" the ARU is leaning towards culling the Rebels and subsequently decided to speak out.

"Our players are under a lot of stress," he said.

"It is really starting to wear thin.

"Andrew Cox, a bit over a month ago, stood in the middle of the field with all players and staff and said that we are 100 percent safe.

"No matter what we hear and no matter what we read, we are 100 percent safe.

"He said he will never sell this club to have the ARU close it down.

"On the back of that we beat the Brumbies and then the rumours came back again.

"The players have been dealing with these rumours and they're debilitating for them." - Morgan Turinui

Rebels officials were completely blindsided when ARU Chairman Cameron Clyne put them up as one of the two clubs on the chopping block.

Even in the weeks following Clyne's comments, the Rebels sat idle as the Force launched a passionate plea for survival.

That was due to Cox's assurances the club was safe and it proved a hindrance for the Rebels, as they appeared to be carefree while the rugby loving public backed the Force's case.

"From the beginning, we have been given assurances through our owner that the Rebels are 100 percent safe," Turinui said.

"I suppose that is why we were blindsided so much when Cameron Clyne came out and said we were in the firing line with another Super Rugby club.

"We've also been quite vocal in the fact that being on 'team Andrew Cox' - we have been assured that we are safe.

"We haven't played well, we haven't won enough games - that's a separate issue.

Cameron Clyne chaired the meeting. Photo: Getty Images"But Andrew Cox looked me in the eye, shook my hand and said the Rebels will be here for years to come.

"The exhausting thing is that the rumours continue to circulate.

"The fear in our team at the moment is that there is some element of truth to the rumour.

"But from what we have been told - from what Andrew Cox has told us - we are probably the most safe club because we have a private owner that will not sell to the ARU."

As the momentum seemingly swings in favour of keeping the Force, the simple fact remains that if Cox decides to stay strong and not sell, the Rebels will survive.

"The only way the Rebels won't be here for the next 100 years is if the owner sells to the ARU," Turinui said.

"The issue we've got here is that my players are reading the media and they are being debilitated from a mental health perspective.

"We have genuine issues and worries with our players."

Turinui's scathing assessment of the ARU comes at a particularly interesting time, as he has taken a very strong grip on Rebels training sessions in the last two weeks.

He called the shots in the lead up to Saturday's loss to the Reds and did so today, while coach Tony McGahan stood quietly behind play.

Turinui's parting shot at this afternoon's press conference was a shot at RUPA.

"We need them to represent the players - that's what RUPA is all about," he said.

"I was on the board of directors at RUPA so I know exactly what their charter is - to protect the rights and the working conditions of the players and their wellbeing.

"No one cares about a newsletter that RUPA sends out, no one cares about tickets to players that RUPA can provide, they're there to look after the players.

"RUPA need to step up, the way the ARU have handled it is an absolute disgrace."