IPL-style league not for Wallabies
Former Wallabies skipper Phil Waugh and young gun James O’Connor have been sounded out about joining a South African Twenty20-style rugby tournament.
But it appears organisers of the bold scheme to emulate the Indian Premier League with souped-up 40-minute games have little chance of picking up players in their prime.
The Australian Rugby Union has indicated contracted Super 15 players would be off-limits to the mooted eight-team league to be played in January 2012.
Waugh, O’Connor, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau – all off contract after the 2011 World Cup – have been named as prime targets in South African reports.
Waugh and O’Connor both confirmed approaches while Mitchell said news of the concept was news to him as he prepared for the Wallabies clash with Ireland on Saturday night.
O’Connor, 19, virtually ruled out signing on if the concept got off the ground due to the fact it would likely end his burgeoning Test career
“It’s in the back of my mind but it’s two years off and I don’t know what I’ll be doing next week on my break let alone 2012,” he told AAP.
“To be honest, I play rugby to play for Australia. That’s always been my dream and I would do nothing to jeopardise playing for my country.
“As (coach) Robbie Deans says `it goes so quick and you have to cherish every moment in that jersey’.”
Waugh, who has been overlooked by Deans in 2010 and just picked up a knee injury in club rugby, said while he’d held some preliminary discussions with organisers he only knew sketchy details.
“It’s obviously all speculation at the moment and if it comes to fruition only time will tell,” the NSW skipper said.
The idea is being strongly pushed by former Springbok flanker Rassie Erasmus but the promoters have little chance of receiving support from the New Zealand and South African boards let alone the ARU.
European-based players would also be hard-pressed to sign up as January falls in the middle of the northern season while Super 15 coaches won’t want to release their players in the pre-season.
The best organisers could hope for would be luring off-contract veterans and journeymen in between international stints.
“It’s right at the front end of the Super 15 and Super 15 teams would not be too enthusiastic about their guys not taking part in their pre-season preparations,” said Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie.
“It might be good for players who are retiring.”© AAP 2013
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