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Report: Scotland in talks to poach All Black prospect from the Crusaders

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Scotland have an All Black prospect in their sights as a shortage of U20 talent has forced a recruitment spree to raid eligible offshore talent according to a report by Mail Sport.

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Crusaders first five-eighth Fergus Burke, currently recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in 2023, is the target of interest as they look to bolster playmaking depth with no imminent successor to 31-year-old flyhalf Finn Russell.

Mail Sport understands that they parties are in talks over a deal that would bring Burke to Glasgow Warriors and bring him into national contention.

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The 24-year-old is just one of the players that Scotland is chasing from the Southern Hemisphere as a lack of players coming through the pipeline at U2o level hits home.

The groomed successor to departed All Black No 10 Richie Mo’unga, Burke is off-contract with NZR and the Crusaders at the end of 2024 in what shapes as a pivotal year.

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He has been with the club since coming through the Crusaders academy in 2018 and with Mo’unga gone, he has the chance to finally take over the 10 jersey for the club.

A move to Scotland would be a blow for New Zealand’s thinning first five stocks with Burke one of the strongest candidates to break into the All Blacks over the next few years.

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Head coach Gregor Townsend is concerned about the depth of the Scotland national side and there are fears that Italy could surpass them in the coming years with strong production at U20 level and success in the URC with Benetton.

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Poorfour 5 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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