Wallabies stars set for lighter 2019 loads

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Australian Super Rugby stars could be rested more often in 2019 after discussions between state and national coaching staff, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says.

Super Rugby coaches met with Wallabies staff last week to discuss what their plans were moving into 2019 and Gibson said workload management was a big point of discussion moving into a World Cup year.

NSW’s stars have some of the biggest workloads of any Australian players, with Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale both featuring in every match of the 2018 Super Rugby campaign and playing the full 80 in all but one match each.

Gibson said the overwhelming sentiment from the second year of the coaching forum was with the World Cup in mind.

“It was a really productive last week from our perspective, felt we came away with a real win-win scenario in the fact that we got to hear what the national program required and where they want to be," he said.

"Of course the common interest is we want our players to do very well at the World Cup and it's important for Australian rugby that the Wallabies do well and it's (about) how we get there..

“I think we got to a nice stage where we want to be able to manage our players better and that's something we agree on.

“One of the learnings I took from last season is I played our top team too often and I'd like to be able to manage that better next season.”

The move to manage player loads better could be a blessing for the Waratahs' depth as well with Foley recently committing to just one more year in Australia.

While the playmaker hasn't ruled out staying in Australia beyond 2019, a lighter load for their flyhalf could help pave the way to an easier transition if he does move on, opening the door for youngster Mack Mason to step up.

Gibson said they wouldn’t be expecting any kind of mandate from the Wallabies staff in the way New Zealand dictates the management of All Blacks.

New Zealand Super Rugby coaches had to rest their All Blacks for at least two matches through the Super Rugby season this year.

“That wasn't part of our discussion,” Gibson said.

“It was more a discussion around we need to manage our players well and that I agree with.”

The establishment of the coaches' meeting was a big step when it came to rebuilding interstate relations and the relationships between states and the Wallabies. 

“That takes time,” he said.

“Every year that we do that forum and the conference, we get better at it and more aligned.

“That's a positive thing.

“We all know in previous years we've been very tribal, very insular and worried about our own backyard and I think that's one of the things that Cheik's done really well is bring us all together.

“Everyone says it's an opportunity for the coaches to be together as well. From my perspective it was really productive, I think we got to some really nice agreements.”

The Waratahs still have four spots to finalise in their 2019 squad and Gibson said the team hoped to have negotiations with Wallabies centurion Adam Ashley-Cooper locked up in the next fortnight.

“We’re still searching for another forward whether that be a lock or loose forward and we are looking to conclude things with Adam, something we want to try and tidy up in the next two weeks and then we're still looking for a winger,” he said.

“A number of options that we're working through.”