Fresh out of quarantine and having returned to the loving arms of avid Australian rugby fans, Nic White is set to leave his mark on Australian rugby, both domestically and internationally.
Signing with his old club, the Brumbies, he is preparing to take over from Joe Powell, who is off contract at the end of the 2020 season.
White’s signing seemingly spells the end of Powell’s fortuitous career at the Brumbies throughout which he earned three representative caps, debuting for the Wallabies against Fiji in 2017. With a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of his playing career, Powell has stepped up to the plate and taken advantage of the unfortunate COVID-19 circumstances.
The reformed Super Rugby AU competition has provided Joe Powell with a platform to advertise his savvy scrumhalf talents in the hope to spark interest from prospective clubs. If Powell’s 2020 rugby season has demonstrated anything to these clubs, it’s the sheer dogged determination that he possesses. Selfless play and close support after tackle busts have remained a central feature of his style.
There is no doubt that Powell’s skill would be a valuable inclusion to any club looking to strengthen their scrumhalf position. However, with the uncertain COVID-19 circumstances inhibiting travel and ensuring the process of acquiring international players is becoming increasingly strenuous for both parties, a potential move overseas could prove challenging. As I see it, Joe Powell has three options.
Option one: Reimburse the faith
The first option for Joe Powell would be to reimburse the faith that the Brumbies invested in him by continuing to play his best in the hope to stay at the club for his post-2020 playing career. However, accepting a deal to remain at the club ensures that he would need to compete for the starting spot with seasoned scrumhalf, Nic White. Furthermore, the stay option seems increasingly impractical with academy recruit Issak Fines appearing on pundits’ radars after executing a scrumhalf snipe against the Waratahs in the dying minutes of the game. While the option may seem like a step backwards in Powell’s career, with the COVID-19 circumstances creating increased uncertainty, it surely isn’t off the table as a viable alternative.
Option two: A Rebels rebirth
If Powell’s aspirations involve remaining in Australia, it seems the Rebels would be in the best position to offer him an opportunity. However, the move heavily relies on the Rebels’ involvement in Rugby Australia’s plans for the future of the competition. Assuming they fall on the right side of these competition plans, a Powell signing would be almost guaranteed with two of their premier scrumhalves, Ryan Louwrens and Frank Lomani, linked to clubs overseas and open to negotiations about their playing futures. Despite a Rebels move being clouded with uncertainty, until we know the way forward for Australian rugby and the Rebels’ fate, it’s not off the table.
Option three: Follow in White’s footsteps
Perhaps the most likely of all options for Joe Powell is to sign with an international club that is willing to offer him a starting position and a chance to hone his skills. With Nic White returning to training at the Brumbies’ camp, there is no doubt Powell will be picking his brain and potentially wanting to follow in White’s footsteps. White’s career was in a very similar situation to Powell’s when he left for Montpellier in 2015. On the verge of an international opportunity with the Wallabies, White decided to focus on the style of rugby he wanted to play and moved to a club that offered that opportunity. No doubt Powell has noticed that White’s decision is paying dividends now, as he is the front-runner to don the Wallabies’ number nine jersey. Nic White may be an instrumental figure in Powell’s career-defining decision regarding his playing career beyond 2020.
While the options I have listed above are pure speculation, they are born out of admiration and respect. Regardless of where Joe Powell decides to go, there is no doubt in my mind that he will flourish and develop into a world-class scrumhalf. He would be a valuable inclusion to any squad and I wish to see him do well with his future playing endeavours.
I’m interested in what you think Powell’s future holds?