Lack of academy hurts OZ teams, says White

2012-02-11 00:00

SYDNEY — Former Springboks Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White has suddenly discovered why Australian teams have only occasionally won the Super Rugby tournament. It adds up to a shortage of numbers and an uneven playing field.

White, who has taken over at the Brumbies, said on Thursday that it was more difficult for Australian teams to win the title because of player restrictions.

“It is so much tougher for the Australian teams because there is a salary cap and you can only have 30 players,’’ White said. “There is no academy — so there’s no junior age groups you can pull players from. So you really can’t underestimate what Ewen McKenzie did with the Reds last year — for an Australian team to win the title was a fantastic achievement.

“The main difficulty I am having is when you don’t have an academy and you don’t have an U21 side, it makes it tough to have the required depth. [South African] teams, like the Bulls and Sharks, can draw in U21 players, while New Zealand teams can draw in players from their provincial competition.

“… here it is different. That is the difficulty of coaching an Australian franchise team. You are playing in the competition involving 15 teams and five teams have restrictions the other 10 don’t have.’’

At least White is happy he will be able to field a team. While the Brumbies have lost a tribe of Wallabies including Rocky Elsom and Adam Ashley-Cooper, White argues they are still better off than some other provinces.

When asked if he had a lot of talent to choose from, White said: “We are as good as we can be in that framework … At this point in time, the Brumbies have a lot of positives other teams don’t have. I have 32 guys fit and ready to play, whereas other franchises have a lot of injuries …’’

Who will be the Brumbies captain remains a mystery.

“I’ve just joined them, I don’t really know the players and haven’t seen them play. So it would be unfair for me to immediately announce a captain,’’ White said.

“There are a lot of guys there who have leadership potential, but the most important thing is that I’m looking for a captain who complements me and brings the best out in the group.’’ — Sport24.

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