Australian rugby will cease to exist if they don’t axe at least one Super Rugby franchise, says All Blacks legends Jeff Wilson and John Kirwan.
The Australian teams have struggled over the past few seasons, with Wilson and Kirwan questioning the quality of personnel on offer at the country’s five Super Rugby Pacific franchises.
“The number of quality players that they don’t have in Australia at the moment is definitely weakening their Super Rugby sides,” Wilson told The Breakdown.
“Michael Hooper’s not playing at the moment, Andrew Kellaway’s not playing, who was outstanding last year.
“Because they’ve got five teams and then you remove this level of talent from across those sides, I think it’s damaging their Super Rugby chances, but also some of their confidence as players because they’re just not here to make these connections with these guys.
“We need superstars in the game. [New Zealand has] Ardie Savea on the top of his game; Will Jordan playing fantastic.
“At the moment I’m looking across the Tasman and I’m going, ‘where are they?’ Where are the gamechangers, where are the guys that we want to come and watch so it’s going to be a more even competition?”
A change in Rugby Australia’s overseas selection policy, formerly known as the ‘Giteau Law’, could stem the loss of Australian talent abroad, but Kirwan hints that it may be too late.
He added: “We’ve had this conversation before about Australia dropping a franchise and they don’t want to do it, and it’s going to kill their own rugby.
“They cannot afford to keep their pros … they have made a decision, and I think it’s the wrong decision because they’re letting their players play overseas, but it’s damaging their rugby.
“They’re not going to have the courage to actually drop a franchise, and what’s going to happen? They’re going to get pumped again in this Super Rugby [season].”