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'No one wanted him': Ex-Wallaby says Hansen had no future in Australia

By Ben Smith
Ireland wing Mack Hansen arrives off the bus prior to the Six Nations Rugby match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield Stadium on March 12, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The rise of former Australian U20 product Mack Hansen to starting right wing for Ireland, the world’s number one ranked side, has left many questioning whether the Wallabies let one get away.

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However former Wallaby midfielder Morgan Turinui insists that Ireland’s new star would not have got picked had he stayed in Australia and had no future in the game there.

Hansen left Australia to take up a deal with Connacht in 2021 and it took one year to debut for the Ireland side with Hansen eligible through his Cork-born mother.

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“I don’t think he would have got picked here,” former Wallaby Turinui said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts podcast.

“That’s the stupidity of it. He wasn’t anywhere near it, really. Like the chat was that the Brumbies had their succession plan.

“They went to the other Super (Rugby) teams – his management, whatever – said, ‘Who wants him?’ No one wanted him.

“And he was a good footballer, but good football didn’t stand out, whatever, you couldn’t have picked him – well, I wouldn’t have picked him to be this good at international level.”

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Hansen played for four seasons with the Brumbies after coming through the Canberra Vikings feeder team, but failed to nail down a starting spot and appeared 21 times for the club from 2018-2021.

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The Brumbies had Henry Speight, Chance Peni, Toni Pulu, Solomone Kata, Andrew Muirhead, and Tom Wright on the roster through the years Hansen was with the squad.

Turinui’s view is hard to deny as competition for wingers within the Wallabies squad is tough with Fijian flyer Marika Koroibete a guaranteed starter on the left wing when available while in 2021 former age grade star Andrew Kellaway was a breakout performer on the right wing.

The Melbourne Rebels fullback bagged nine tries in the calendar year in his debut season for the Wallabies in the 14 jersey.

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Rugby league convert Sulivasi Vunivalu has made just one appearance for the Wallabies while 2020 debutant Filipo Daugunu managed just seven Tests on the right wing.

Brumbies fullback Tom Wright has also been used as well as Reds prodigy Jordan Petaia.

In 2022 the debtut of Waratahs winger Mark Nawaqanitawase offered another potential star while their is already hype building over his Tahs’ teammate Max Jorgensen.

There are no shortage of wingers in Australia for new head coach Eddie Jones to select from, but there could still be more cases like Hansen in the future.

Former Western Force winger Byron Ralston has followed in Hansen’s footsteps and joined up with Connacht.

However, Hansen’s Ireland move has paid off and the unwanted Aussie wing is now on the verge of capturing a Grand Slam with Ireland after a man-of-the-match performance against Scotland at Murrayfield.

The 24-year-old has scored six tries in his 13 Tests with Ireland so far and already has won a series over the All Blacks last July.

 

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Flankly 2 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

If rugby wants to remain interesting in the AI era then it will need to work on changing the rules. AI will reduce the tactical advantage of smart game plans, will neutralize primary attacking weapons, and will move rugby from a being a game of inches to a game of millimetres. It will be about sheer athleticism and technique,about avoiding mistakes, and about referees. Many fans will find that boring. The answer is to add creative degrees of freedom to the game. The 50-22 is an example. But we can have fun inventing others, like the right to add more players for X minutes per game, or the equivalent of the 2-point conversion in American football, the ability to call a 12-player scrum, etc. Not saying these are great ideas, but making the point that the more of these alternatives you allow, the less AI will be able to lock down high-probability strategies. This is not because AI does not have the compute power, but because it has more choices and has less data, or less-specific data. That will take time and debate, but big, positive and immediate impact could be in the area of ref/TMO assistance. The technology is easily good enough today to detect forward passes, not-straight lineouts, offside at breakdown/scrum/lineout, obstruction, early/late tackles, and a lot of other things. WR should be ultra aggressive in doing this, as it will really help in an area in which the game is really struggling. In the long run there needs to be substantial creativity applied to the rules. Without that AI (along with all of the pro innovations) will turn rugby into a bash fest.

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