Waratahs assistant coach Jason Gilmore says emerging No.10 Tane Edmed wants to stay at the club, but admits he remains ripe for poaching by another Super Rugby outfit.
Gilmore was asked Thursday about Edmed’s contract situation and his battle for supremacy in the No.10 jersey with Ben Donaldson at the club.
Earlier in the season the presence of Donaldson was seen a potential barrier to Edmed signing a new deal but an injury to Donaldson opened the door and his teammate has taken full advantage.
While Edmed’s quality is clear, what isn’t is where he will be playing next season.
“Tane wants to stay,” Gilmore said. “Obviously we can’t be naïve to other clubs coming in with bigger offers and promising starting positions. But I think he’s mentioned he wants to go somewhere where he’s going to get developed and I know he’s happy here.
“We’re certainly keen to keep him. It’s a little above my pay scale in terms of the dollar figures and where that’s up to but I know he’s happy and we’re keen to keep him.
“How we get that done behind closed doors, that would probably be for other blokes to speak to.”
What Gilmore can relay is the training ground tussle between Edmed and Donaldson.
This week Donaldson has been slotted in at No.15, with Alex Newsome moving to No.13 to replace the injured Izaia Perese.
Gilmore acknowledged it might have been easier to bring in veteran Jamie Roberts as a straight swap for Perese, who is only an outside chance of returning in the finals.
“It was a tough one,” Gilmore said. “Donno was probably starting to get into some good form off the bench. He’s a forgotten man a little bit – he was in good form until he got injured and Tane’s been playing good footy.
“We wanted two ball players on the park still because [Lalakai Foketi’s] running game is staring to pick up at the moment.
“By having those guys at 10 and 15 just gives us two options to play both sides of the field which we’re hoping the boys will do well. “
He backed Newsome to make an impact as a Perese replacement.
“Nobby’s probably our smartest defender,” Gilmore said. “Izaia gives us that physicality and speed but Nobby’s just really smart in that outside centre channel. It’s not an easy one to defend and he’s done it before and we know what we get with him.
“It gives us stability through the centres and two ball playing options having Donno on the pitch.”
Gilmore said Donaldson had reacted well despite his inability to win back the jersey he lost through injury.
“All the boys, attitude wise there’s no dramas,” said Gilmore. “If they’re not starting or they’re off the bench they’re all rowing the same direction.
“He knows Tane’s been playing good football and it’s good for the squad – it’s competition. It drives Donno to train harder to be better and drives Tane so that he keeps his jersey.
“The two boys are going head to head at the moment at training and Tane’s just taken his opportunity. It’s not that Donno has played poorly. The side’s got good rhythm, there’s a combination that’s being built.
“Donno has been really patient but he’s hungry and wants to get back on the park and start. It’s probably not his preferred position but with the injury to Izaia it gives us the option to bring Donno back into the starting team.”
Meanwhile AAP reports Gilmore has picked up a new part time gig as Australia A with a team to compete in the Pacific Nations Cup this July in Fiji.
While the Wallabies take on England in three Tests in July in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, a development squad will play three matches against Test line-ups from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.
Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos says the return of Australia A is a way to get more high-level rugby into Super Rugby players, with the National Rugby Championship (NRC) no longer in place.
Australia A played regularly between 2000 and 2008 – even recording a surprise win over the 2001 British and Irish Lions – and has been considered a launching pad for Test careers.
“Our High Performance review highlighted a relative lack of game time for the younger, developing professional players in our system,” Marinos said in a statement on Thursday.
“Alongside working on competition structures that can help to alleviate this relative lack of game time, one of our priorities has been to re-establish Australia A to provide additional top-flight matches.
“This will help to develop a deeper squad of elite players, as well as giving players some representative experience to take back to their Super Rugby Pacific clubs – which can only be a good thing for Australian rugby.”
The concept will also provide another level of experience for emerging coaches with Gilmore named to head the side.
Brumbies attack coach Rod Seib, Reds defence coach Michael Todd, and Rebels forwards coach Geoff Parling will be Gilmore’s assistants.
Selection in Australia A may affect players with multiple heritage as under World Rugby rules a senior team captures eligibility.
This would affect players who wish to make themselves available for selection for another country before next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
Australia A v Samoa on July 2 in Suva
Australia A v Fiji on July 9 in in Lautoka
Australia A v Tonga on July 16 in Lautoka