Australian rugby needs to treat young talent with care: White

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White has urged everyone in Australian rugby to treat the emerging generation with caution.

White, speaking on RUGBY.com.au's Rugby Nation Show, said there was naturally an air of excitement around the players coming through after they enjoyed success in at schools and U20s level.

However, he said Australian rugby needed to treat its kids carefully to ensure they had longevity in both Super Rugby and with the Wallabies.

"You don't want to be chopping and changing and having guys coming in and playing two games and going we're looking for the next next thing," he said.

"We want to look after guys over a couple of seasons, let them play a couple of seasons of good Super Rugby like it used to be and then we say, 'You're ready,' and they can go in and they dominate at Test level.

"I'm sure the Super coaches and certainly Dave Rennie and the coaching staff are across that but there's media as well that have to look after guys and also the coaches not hanging guys out to dry and not expect too much.

"There's an exciting period, you can't not get excited by how well the juniors have gone the last couple of years but we can't expect them to transfer that into the big boy stuff straight away as 21-year-olds, 22-year-olds, let's wait for them to mature into men around 25,26, get the next cycle between the World cup that's just been and the next one in 2023."

White admitted there would always be anomalies when it comes to young talent but ultimately it was important not to put the weight of the world on youngsters' shoulders.

"There's definitely exceptions to the rule, there will be some guys that definitely come through and are able to handle it, there always has been, I just don't think as a whole, we should expect too much of all the young guys coming through because there are a lot of really young squads across all of Super Rugby here in Australia.

"The handful of more experienced guys have got to shoulder that load, we have to, lead by example and not expect too much of the younger guys.

"We shouldn't expect them to come in and have to win the game for teams. If they come in and just do their job well, I think there's some really exciting years ahead and those young guys should be pushing and wanting to be in squads and Wallaby teams and everything but at the same time, they should be happy with just being a little bit patient so when they do get their chance they're in and they stay in."

The 30-year-old's comments came just a day after teen sensation Joseph Suaalii was linked with an Australian rugby deal at just 16.

White returned to Canberra this week and started training with the Brumbies after five years overseas.

With the coronavirus wreaking havoc on rugby seasons around the globe, White could be in the mix to play Super Rugby AU, something that normally wouldn't be the case.

There will be plenty of competition for the halfback spot in each Super Rugby AU squad and White had big praisde for "forgotten man" Ian Prior after the first three weeks of the competition.

"There's plenty of nines (around Australia)," he said.

"One guy that no one was really talking about and probably hasn't for a couple of years, I think Ian Prior's played really well, he's controlled the game really, really well.

"Super Rugby's a frantic pace, everyone knows it's faster than anywhere else in the world and at times you need a nine that can really control that tempo, control the game and I thought he's been doing that really well in the first game especially against the Waratahs and in that small period against the Reds before he got injured.

"I'm good mates with Ian and it's good to see him doing well, he's goal kicking well and controlling the game so I think for a couple of years now, it must've been hurting him to be a little bit like the forgotten man but he's certainly put the heat on everyone on the east coast."

Prior injured his shoulder against Queensland and is in doubt for this weekend's clash with the Brumbies.

The Force take on the Brumbies on Saturday July 25 at Leichhardt Oval, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.