One Percenters: White considering return home, family ties in Super W

by Beth Newman, Emma Greenwood and Iain Payten

Former Brumbies and Wallabies halfback Nic White is the latest “one that got away” who could be potentially making an Australian rugby homecoming.

White, who played 22 times for Australia before moving overseas in 2016, is understood to be seriously considering a return home to play Super Rugby next year.

The 28-year-old is currently playing for English heavyweights but is off contract at the end of this Premiership season.

White played for the Brumbies for four years, prior to leaving for Montpellier and then Exeter, but we hear he’d be more likely to land elsewhere if he returned.

White is a NSW boy, from the Hunter, and played for Eastwood. The Waratahs will have a spot opening up with Nick Phipps off to London Irish, and where Will Genia chooses to play long-term could also be a factor.

White has not hidden the fact he still harbours ambitions to play in the Wallabies jersey again, and to play in a World Cup, and there’s little doubt he’d be straight back in the mix.

He was contentiously left out of the 2015 World Cup squad, despite scoring a winning try over the All Blacks in Sydney a few month beforehand.

“As much as people think old head and that I’ve played a lot of footy now, I’d like to think I’m only half way through my career,” White told the Newcastle Herald last year.

“I think the year I’ve just had with Exeter is certainly the best footy I’ve played in my career and I’d like to think I’m getting better.

“So I hope one day that opportunity [to play a World Cup] comes. I’ll probably line myself up contractually wise to leave the door open after this World Cup [2019]. I’ve put a line through that World Cup … but if I’m playing good enough footy then [2023], something could possibly happen and it’s something I’d jump at. Maybe a World Cup at 33.”

White and wife Melissa had a baby boy, Leo, last year.

If White returns, he’ll follow in the footsteps of Matt Toomua, Luke Jones, Genia, Quade Cooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper as Wallabies who’ve all returned after being part of the last “Post World Cup exodus”.

South African change sparks conversation

The change made by South Africa to remove the 30-cap rule (i.e their version of the Giteau Law) and pick from overseas prompted some on the socials  to say Australia needed to do the same, with “so much talent overseas”.

It’s a topic  of debate about just how many players currently offshore (not eligible under Giteau) who would walk back into the Wallabies.

Some would argue the number is now very few, and so scrapping the must-play-in-Australia rules would have little impact other than to incentivise people to play overseas and leave Super Rugby – where depth of 25-year-old-plus talent  is most needed.

One missed player many point to is backrower Scott Fardy. We hear the 35-year-old has been approached a few times about coming home, too, but is being chased with big bucks to move from Leinster to Wasps.

Mann-Rea still a fine vintage

Like a fine wine, Josh Mann-Rea just gets better with age.

The hooker turned 38 last week, which brought him level with Radike Samo and George Smith as the oldest Aussies to ever play in Super Rugby.

He spoke with last week ahead of his record-equalling match.

Rebels working to reduce homophobia

Rebels duo Tom English and Sam Jeffries have been working with Monash University researcher Erik Denison to reduce homophobic language and attitudes in sport.

Jeffries and English have visited clubs in the Melbourne area to discuss homophobia and the language around it, speaking to teenage and young adult rugby players about the issue.

The study was given a VicSport award this week for the impact it has already had and Denison said he was grateful for Rugby Victoria and the Rebels for teaming up with Monash to help conduct the club workshops.

“It was brave of the Victorian rugby community to support this research so strongly,” he said.

“I know Rugby Victoria says rugby is a ‘game for all’, although sometimes these slogans don’t translate to the grassroots.”

“This was not our experience with rugby.

“Everyone involved in rugby, from national, state and club leaders as well as coaches and players supported our research and efforts to end discrimination in all sports.

“This level of engagement is unheard of when conducting this type of research.”

Super W a full-blown family affair

There are plenty of familial connections in this year's Super W competition.

Some, like Scott Sio's sister Analise donning the NSW women's jersey, are returning from the inaugural season but that's just the start.

Wallaroo and Aussie Sevens rising star Samantha Treherne lined up against sister Jessie in their clash on Sunday afternoon.

Brumbies flyhalf Wharenui Hawera had some extra skin in the Super W game, watching his fiancee Ngawai Eyles running around for the Brumbies women.

But the one that takes the cake would have to be that of Irene Macarthur and Brumbies Super W assistant Tevita Siulangapo.

Not only are the pair both in the Brumbies setup, but they've brought their five-month daughter Sasha into the rugby fold as well.

Sasha might only be able to spectate now but if her parents are anything to go by, it might be worth watching that space.

Sevens have closer look at Davies

Rod Davies turned out for UTS in the Kiama 7s. Photo: WalmsleyRod Davies has been trialling with the Aussie Sevens in recent weeks and he had his first competitive run this weekend in the Kiama Sevens.

Davies and a host of Australian development players featured in the event on the NSW coast this weekend, a key chance to impress the coaches.

Check out the full gallery here.

"Nobody" to be unveiled in Brisbane

Wallabies great John Eales is set to have his place permanently cemented - or bronzed - in sporting history.

Eales' statue is set to be unveiled outside Suncorp Stadium on Monday, making him the first rugby figure to be honoured at the Queensland cauldron.