McKellar keen to see finals in domestic competition

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says he'd like to see finals included in any modified Super Rugby competition this year.

Rugby Australia is hoping to be cleared to return to competition on July 4 but is still waiting government sign off and clarity over the number of teams to be involved.

Rugby AU general manager of professional rugby services Ben Whitaker said on Monday night they were looking at a 10-12 week competition but did not specify finals.

New Zealand Rugby on Monday unveiled their own domestic Super Rugby competition that will act as a round robin competition with no finals.

McKellar said he hoped there would be playoffs involved in the competition, whenever it is up and running.

"If it is the competition we think it's going to be, you're still playing roughly 10 games I would imagine, a finals series is always a good way to finish your competition," he said.

"I'm never a huge fan of first past the post I think it's always good for supporters, fans and everyone involved to have that grand final or that final occasion.

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar would be keen to see finals played in a new Super Rugby competition. Photo: Getty Images"I think it's good for players as well, for their own development, putting them in a more pressured situation so I'd like to see a grand final at GIO if we can get crowds back but we'll see how we go."

The Brumbies returned to training for the first time in nearly seven weeks on Tuesday with groups of eight to nine players training with an assigned coach.

Players are able to do any non-contact training, including catching and passing drills, for the next fortnight after which it is hoped they will be able to graduate into contact drills.

Australia's players resume training after some turbulent weeks in the sport but McKellar said they were all happy to put their focus squarely on the field.

"You can only control what we can control here and that's making sure our preparation's tip top that we're providing a program for the players that does motivate them, motivates them to get better every day and something we talk about all the time is how can we improve the game from one day to the next, whether it's from the gym or on the field," he said.

"It's certainly challenging, it's challenging for everyone at the moment, society in general. If you owned a pub or had your own business, your cafe or whatever it'd be it'd be challenging in those situations as well.

"We're pretty fortunate here that our players are paid to train and look after themselves physically which in turn looks after their mental health or plays a role in making sure they're healthy between the ears as well and that's really important."

McKellar said the "stressful" nature of the current situation wasn't lost on him either.

"There's uncertainty there, it's always going to be a concern," he said.

I'm no different to the players, I've just got to go about and do my role well.

"We were in a really good position before the competition was suspended.

"We'd started the season well, built really good momentum and we were also in a really good position in terms of contracting and putting our list together for 2021 as well.

"That's all been put on hold and it's been put on hold for everyone.

"I don't think there's too many markets throughout the world that are too aggressive at the moment in signing players or coaches so I've just got to make sure I do my job well and lead well in what's a stressful time for the club."

Three members of the squad are not training yet - Toni Pulu is still recovering from shoulder surgery, Jahrome Brown is still in self-isolation after returning from New Zealand last week and Blake Enever is in Queensland continuing to work his way back from a leg injury.