The Roar
The Roar


Aussie Super Rugby's poaching merry-go-round

Roar Guru
9th September, 2013

Those Reds are at it again – stealing New South Welshmen to bolster their teams.

Lachlan Turner is the latest signing taken over the Tweed and joins some of Queensland’s ‘favourite sons’ in having been brought in from their southern neighbour.

New South Wales has fought back over the years and seen some recent victories, bringing Liverpool boy Drew Mitchell and Minto’s own Israel Folau home after they had stints in the nefarious north.

However Turner joins the likes of Alan Border and Chris Latham in having been stolen by those bailout receiving Queenslanders.

To be fair, Lachie really joins the likes of Beau Robinson rather than the talismanic pair I mentioned above and I wish him all the best.

We owe them a couple with Jono Lance in the new Waratah squad, not to mention Berrick Barnes playing out his Aussie Super career in Sydney.

Rugby league fans probably wonder how Maroon players Matt Rogers, Lote Tuquiri, Wendell Sailor and Izzy all wound up in the hated sky blue of NSW once they switched codes.

It all feels a little bit like a merry-go-round at the moment, with the likes of Luke Morahan off to the Force, Tom Kingston off to the Rebels, Turner to the Reds, Kurtley Beale back to the Tahs and James O’Connor waiting to lock in a new home.

The Brumbies miss that list above but only because I focussed on outside backs. With Ben Mowen and David Pocock as just two examples, they are certainly not immune to bringing players from other sides in.


In fact they, like the other newer Super teams, were founded to give the overflow of talent an opportunity.

Players moving between sides is a given in a professional code but there seems to be too much of it.

The list below are all current Super players who have represented at least two sides (or will do next year). I apologise for all inaccuracies and omissions.

Stephen Moore
Dan Palmer
Ben Mowen
Zack Holmes
David Pocock
Beau Robinson
Radike Samo
Jono Owen
Lachlan Turner
Scott Higginbotham
Mitch Inman
Laurie Weeks
Tom Kingston
Colby Fainga’a
Lopeti Timani
Chris Alcock
Ben McCalman
Hugh McMeniman
Ian Prior
Luke Morahan
Berrick Barnes
Jacques Potgeiter
Mitchell Chapman
Cam Crawford
Luke Holmes
Michael Hooper
Drew Mitchell
Adam Ashley-Cooper
Sitaleki Timani
Mike Harris
Sias Ebersohn
Alby Mathewson
Toby Lynn
Chris Heiberg
Wilhelm Steenkamp
Toby Smith
Ged Robinson

There are 37 names there – is it a coincidence having added an extra team that there is now more than a full squad’s worth of players switching between sides in a five team conference?

(Contrary to my little dig above, the Reds are one of the sides that imports less players than most).

The Force’s squad page is quite humorous in that is has six players on it in their old jerseys rather than the Force one.

I believe in Australia having a fifth team but that group of foreign players at the bottom, along with an increasing number of players from other countries who are coming across to debut for Australian sides, is a warning sign we are struggling to sustain the extra side.


We’ll get there but until we do we will have teams cannibalising each other for players and poaching our neighbours’ second shelf.

Neither is good for the game in this country.

There have been a few critics of the ‘third tier solution’ pointing to the fact that Australia and South Africa’s similar levels of success at international level in the modern era means the third tier is not necessary.

It looks necessary to support depth into the Super Rugby sides.

According to Georgina Robinson on rugby heaven, Bill Pulver and Ben Whitaker are meeting on Wednesday with the Sydney Club presidents to detail the ARU’s view on a sustainable model for NSW Premiership Rugby, as well as a proposal for a National Club Championship.

The player movements above show that everything is not right at the moment and with the ARU not cash rich there are some interesting times ahead.

Competition structural change is coming at Super and potentially domestic level. We clearly need some change in contracting structures as well.

The ARU changed its governance structure last year without any real visible effect.


Will the ARU be more successful in implementing some changes that are vital to the health of the code in this country?