Former Wallabies forward Pek Cowan says it would be “crazy” not to consider having a Japanese team in a revamped Australian Super Rugby competition.
If a Trans-Tasman competition featuring Australian and New Zealand sides fails to get off the ground for 2021, Rugby Australia could launch its own eight-team competition.
That would feature the five current Australian sides, as well as teams from Japan, Argentina, and Fiji.
It’s reported the Japanese-based Sunwolves, who are set to be booted out of Super Rugby at the end of 2020, are in RA’s sights.
Cowan, who has been playing with Japanese outfit Shimizu Blue Sharks since 2017, has seen first-hand the rapid growth of the sport in the country.
The 34-year-old feels a Japanese side would be a good fit for any new competition.
“I think it’s definitely something that needs to be discussed seriously,” Cowan said.
“Japanese rugby in general has really taken a step forward, especially after the World Cup.
“The excitement around the game, the excitement around the Sunwolves and the Japanese national team – it’s definitely something that’s grown immensely since I arrived there in 2017.
“You’d be crazy to think that if you had that opportunity, why wouldn’t you utilise that?
“But at the same time, I guess it needs to work for everyone.”
Cowan has been granted short-term leave from the Sharks to play for the Force in Super Rugby AU.
The veteran prop only started training with the Force in recent days after serving his two-week quarantine period, and is unlikely to play in Saturday’s ‘home’ clash with the Brumbies at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney.
The Force will be without former Wallaby Greg Holmes, who broke his thumb in last week’s 31-24 loss to the Reds.
Cowan has been impressed by the Force’s first two displays, especially considering they were widely tipped to be easy beats.
“We turned a lot of heads, especially last week against the Reds,” Cowan said.
“We were able to score points. Our set piece was strong.”
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