Australian rugby on the hunt for 'a few more Marikas'
Rugby Australia has implemented new pace benchmarks in a bid to get more players running like speed demon Marika Koroibete.
With an eye on the 2021 Olympics and 2023 Rugby World Cup, Australia’s elite male and female players are being put through their paces to see how they compare with gold standard speed measurements.
The Wallabies are currently ranked a lowly sixth in world rugby, just ahead of Scotland.
The Wallaroos come in at fifth, behind England, NZ, Canada, and France.
In Sevens rugby, the Australian men’s side was coming fourth in 2020 before the competition was put on hold, while the Australian women were in second spot.
Australia’s Super Rugby sides have regularly been flogged by their NZ counterparts in recent years.
In a bid to improve results, RA has teamed with the Australian Catholic University and its Sports Performance, Recovery, Injury and New Technologies (SPRINT) Research Centre.
SPRINT researcher Dr Grant Duthie has been putting the Wallabies, Wallaroos, national rugby sevens teams, Super Rugby players, and academy squads under the microscope.
RA national head of athletic performance Dean Benton is overseeing the initiative.
Greater mobility and speed are two qualities identified by RA that will be critical for players to succeed on the world stage.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 12, 2020
Testing yardsticks have been set to keep players and coaches accountable.
“It’s an area of growth for us,” Benton told AAP.
“We’re not where we need to be in terms of speed, in particular with our national teams compared to some of the top nations in the world.
“If you take someone like Marika Koroibete, he’s regarded as world class (in terms of speed). We want a few more Marikas.
“He’s blessed with genetics. Yes, they may not all be as quick as Marika, but with a good program they can certainly get up to that 10 metres per second vicinity.
“We’ll definitely get some improvements before (the 2023 World Cup), and we have to.”
The Wallabies copped a 40-16 thumping from England in the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup, and they posted just one win and three draws from their six Tests in 2020.
– Justin Chadwick
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