Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has backed calls for a drastic Super Rugby shake-up, saying a trans-Tasman competition would be a “great product”.
The coach on Friday said a July return was “optimistic but realistic” and beyond that administrators must look at ways to cut costs and attract new investment.
Rugby Australia are yet to secure a broadcast partner beyond this season and have had their financial plight laid bare during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.
Prior to chief executive Raelene Castle standing down last week, a host of former Wallabies captains called for administrative change while the players’ union highlighted the need for “root and branch” reform.
McKellar agreed cutting South African and Argentinian teams from the far-flung league was one solution, admitting the thought of a trans-Tasman competition that included a Japanese presence excited him.
“Everything’s on the table at the moment … a trans-Tasman competition for me would be a great product,” he said.
“Australia and New Zealand teams, Japan off the back of a World Cup, and the uniqueness that a team like the (Tokyo-based) Sunwolves bring.
“A trans-Tasman comp with an Asian and Pacific feel to it would be a great competition to be involved in and a good product; I think broadcasters would love to get behind it and support it and players would enjoy it as well.”
It’s a concept Rugby Australia are at least open to in the short term, especially after the resumption of trans-Tasman was travel flagged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as an option last week.
While a domestic league featuring the Western Force is the likely first step, McKellar said games against New Zealand Super Rugby outfits would be ideal, while a Bledisloe Cup series could still be on the cards for later this year.
Scheduled discussions between incumbent Wallabies pair Michael Hooper and Matt Toomua, and Waratahs hooker and Rugby Union Players Association president Damien Fitzpatrick, with their New Zealand counterparts next week should help that process.
McKellar’s side had won five of six games to sit second overall and well clear of their nearest Australian conference rivals before Super Rugby was paused.
The coach hopes some form of play will return in July and praised the NRL’s bold ambition to return on May 28.
“I’ve been watching it closely, mainly just as a fan because I think everyone is craving sport,” he said.
“They’re leading the way for sport in general … they’re the guinea pigs for the sport in general and all codes around steps that need to be taken to make it possible.
“Rugby’s approach is to respect government protocols and health authorities … what’s important is to let the experts do their job.”
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