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A Black and (Nic) White decision

Nic White scores potential try of the year

Of the manifold reasons why Nic White turned down a lucrative contract with a Japanese club to remain with the Brumbies and Wallabies, the simplest and most succinct one is that, ultimately, he didn’t want to go.

“The fact is I didn’t want to leave,” White says. “That was a huge part of it. I want to go to a (Rugby) World Cup. I feel like I’ve got so much to offer still,” he tells us this week.

Read the Official Wallabies v England First Test Program here!

“Yes, there were offers that were financially hard to say no to. There’s a big gap [between offers] and that’s just the way it is; Rugby Australia have never said that they’re able to match the money from overseas.

“So you’ve got to want to stick around. And I do. I want to stick around.”

White loves the Brumbies, loves Canberra, loves that it’s a nice place for his three kids under five.

He nods along when you speculate that it’s not like RA offered a six-pack of beer and a bag of cinnamon donuts. It wasn’t Japan money; but it was still pretty good.

“Whilst it would have potentially set my kids up a bit more comfortably, like you said, at the same time, I’m not on a terrible wicket. I’m doing what I love, where I love to do it. There’s a lot of positives there.

“If I was going I’d be saying yes to a lot more money. But I’m not sure, in my heart and soul, I would’ve been happy with that decision,” he adds. 

The club in Japan that offered White the motza shall remain nameless (because this journo doesn’t actually know and what does it matter anyway).

Player agents are loathe to pass these details on, such are the sensitivities of the Japanese corporate club franchises.

At time of writing, for instance, Tom Banks’ new club still hasn’t made his signing public.

But Japan’s loss is Australia’s gain. For there are few more energetic, enthusiastic, experienced Test Rugby players than Nic White.

Indeed the man bounces around the field like a kelpie rounding up cattle. And he’s been doing it at Test level since 2013. His IP is world class - particularly given the Wallabies’ opponents in the newly-minted Ella-Mobbs Cup...

White played for Exeter for three seasons and knows several of the England players. Ask him if England is any good he’ll tell you: “They’re bloody good”.

“They’ve got a great local competition - 13 teams at the moment. With a lot of players to pick from they can always pick guys in form. The squad that’s coming out will be full of a lot of guys with a lot of experience from a very good English team that’s been good for a number of years.

“And now they’ve mixed that with a bunch of young guys who are obviously in form playing in a competition that just finished a week ago.

“So yes, they’re going to be very good,” White says.

White expects a contest at scrum and lineout, as well as in the air, such is the strength of England’s kickers and chasers. Yet they’re areas the Wallabies consider themselves good at, too, according to White.

“It’s pretty exciting to be coming up against one of the heavyweights in the world at doing that sort of stuff. And if we can give it a red hot shake in those areas and then add a few things we’ve been working on then, mate, it should be good fun!”

‘Fun’ is a word White uses often in Rugby chat. As a senior man in the set-up he’s heavily involved in pre-match planning. White loves the stuff. “It’s good fun, it’s like playing bloody chess isn’t it. That’s the beauty of the No.9 or No.10 role; controlling the game. It’s something that’s so important at Test level.”

It’s one reason Rennie has showed faith in White, 32, and in another old soldier, Quade Cooper, 34.

It’s why the Wallabies’ halves against England could have a combined aged of 66. That Rennie has brought back Cooper is proof enough of Wallabies selectors ‘good enough, old enough’ thought process, according to White.

“I think that goes without saying. Whether you’re Angus Bell at 21 or James Slipper at 33. There’s a contest for spots. There’s myself at 32 and Tate McDermott (24). Age is not irrelevant but it’s not the be all and end all.

“And you know, I’ll be coming up against a guy, Danny Cares who’s 35 and playing some of his best footy. In the England premiership final, Richard Wigglesworth, 39, started ahead of Ben Youngs (32).

“But there’s also plenty of young halves, young wingers, young front-rowers who bring a lot of as well. It is the best man for the jersey,” White asserts.

And that man will be White, if he’s got anything to do with it, at least until the end of 2023 when he might see if the offer from Japan still stands. Until then he’ll be looking to improve. It’s all he’s ever done.

“I’ll continue to work on getting as quick as I can to rucks. A lot of the time, it’s just running to breakdowns and getting the ball out as cleanly as possible in the hands of the people that we need to have the ball. In that regard, it’s a very selfless position.

“And that’s something that I love about the position: I’m  serving others. I’ll continue to work hard in that area, to make sure I’m quick to get there, to get away a crisp pass, to get it into the hands of the No.10 or the forwards or whoever it is that needs the ball and give us every chance.”

The Wallabies showed several glimpses of form in the last two years and White says the team is building into a formidable one. Yet the time for building is over. He says their time is now. He can make a case.

In the last two years younger players have debuted against France, the All Blacks, South Africa, Argentina. They’ve toured the northern hemisphere. The Way of the Wallaby - equal parts fun-running Rugby and physicality at the coal-face - has been ingrained in ‘new’ guys.

It will make for more “control”, according to White, because the players have spent a lot of time with each other.

“When you know each other, when you’ve played with each other for a couple of years, it’s nice and comfortable here in camp. You can have honest conversations with each other and keep each other accountable and driving standards.

“We want to go places. And yes, we’ve been building but it’s now time for those building blocks to go somewhere and to take the team to that place,” White says.

What place? The trophy-lifting place, according to White.

“It starts with this English series. We want to start lifting trophies and doing well. We’re under no illusion of how hard that’s going to be or how good the opposition is.

“But we can’t wait to show people how much hard work we’ve done and how much we’re willing to do. Hopefully that leads to us success,” White says.

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