RA looking at player replacement pool, WA plan for Super Rugby Pacific

Mon, Feb 7, 2022, 4:02 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Less than two weeks out from the start of the inaugural season, the virtual launch will bring together the captains and coaches of all Australian-based teams as we preview this exciting new era.

Rugby Australia and Super Rugby Pacific are examining the possibility of a shared player pool and the Force playing games in Western Australia as part of ongoing COVID discussions.

The outbreak has been felt throughout the competition, with the Waratahs revealing all but seven of their 40 player squad contracted COVID over pre-season.

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Along with this, further cases have emerged from the Reds with Hunter Paisami and Tate McDermott joining coach Brad Thorn, James O'Connor and Jordan Petaia in isolation.

With this in mind, RA have confirmed they will look to adopt a similar model to the Big Bash, with up to 30 players added into a back-up 'pool' which clubs can select from.

Whilst this option is being explored, clubs will initially look to cover any disruptions through their elite development and training squads first and foremost before they consider looking at external players.

These players will largely be sourced from Sydney and Brisbane club rugby, available to be selected for multiple clubs, with key emphasis put on ensuring front-row depth.

After two disrupted Super seasons, Marinos was keen to ensure the impact could be limited heading into the revamped competition.

“We want to keep playing games, it’s important we keep playing games. The biggest challenge we have is what happens if we get a lot of impact across the front-row, how do we manage that from a technical perspective," RA CEO Andy Marinos said on potential disruptions.

“The guys have extended squads and it might see a couple of younger players being pushed up but these are all part and parcel of the plans we’ve been working through to get us into position to have the best possible options available.

“The competition committee are working through the final stages of that so we can settle on what the impact would be.

“Certainly before the competition, we’ll have some visibility around how best we can best manage it across the competition.”

It has also forced the Western Force to make the move from Western Australia, with Marinos confirming the organisation was working on a fly-in, fly-out model to ensure games can be held at HBF Park

The Force made the trip to the east coast last week and will spend the majority of the opening rounds on the road.

However, their round three match against the Reds remains TBC, with Marinos hinting at the potential of being able to play the game in WA along with their remaining scheduled games at home.

“It is very dynamic and there’s always going to be susceptible to further change but we now know we have a fly-in fly-out model that can be used in Perth,” he added.

“Whilst they will base themselves here (in the eastern states), we’re working through the details of them being able to fly in through a bubble and play some games before continuing and carrying on.

“It’s made some progress but now we just have to monitor it now on a weekly basis.

"It’ll either be played on the east coast or whether that fly-in fly-out model for the guys under a bubble environment, we just need to work through details."

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