Salary cap makes Super Rugby harder in Australia
Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White thinks he has discovered an Australian rugby leader of the future in new Brumbies captain Ben Mowen. But he’s also discovered why Australian teams struggle to win the Super Rugby tournament.
JAKE WHITE, former World Cup winning Springboks coach and current man in charge of the ACT Brumbies, has said that it is more difficult for Australian Super Rugby teams to win the title because of player restrictions and an uneven playing field.
“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.”
White said that a lack of young players or youth development options for the state and territory based teams has made the task much harder for him at the Brumbies.
“The main difficulty I am having is when you don’t have an academy and you don’t have an under-21 side it makes it tough to have the required depth. [South African] teams, like the Bulls and Sharks, can draw on under-21 players, while New Zealand teams can draw in players from their provincial competition.
“The Blues can drag in players from North Harbour, the Chiefs can get players from Taranaki and so on. And in South Africa, they can bring in players from other areas. But 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, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Stephen Hoiles, 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. As much as the squad is inexperienced and new, there are bonuses.”
As for a skipper to lead his new look Brumbies squad into the 2012 Super 15 tournament, White has chosen former NSW enforcer Ben Mowen.
“There are a lot of guys here 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.”
Mowen, who was unwanted by the Waratahs at the end of last term, replaces departed skipper Stephen Hoiles and narrowly edged out Australian hooker Stephen Moore for the top job.
“With so many new faces it’s taken time for the team to settle, but from the time he arrived you could see that Ben is a leader and that he has the respect of the team,” White said.
“He has a long history of leading teams. In particular, his work with the 2005 Australian Under 21s was impressive.”
And despite the relative inexperience of the Canberra based Brumbies outfit in 2012, the new skipper feels that this season does not constitute a rebuilding year for the franchise.
“I’m excited because I believe in what the team can do,” said Mowen.
“We have been together for close to nine months now as a team, and we have seen the benefit of those combinations through the trials.
“We have spoken about the need to be desperate as a group, and what we will and won’t accept from each other as our standards for 2012. I feel very fortunate to be chosen to represent the group, and I can see a huge self-belief building within the team.” – With sources
The Super 15 competition starts 24 February