Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese has backed Rugby Australia’s ultimatum for New Zealand to either accept five Aussie teams in a remodelled Super Rugby competition or carry on without their trans-Tasman friends in 2021. Uelese, the Rebels No2, says RA boss Rob Clarke’s deadline of September 4 for NZ Rugby to make up its mind gives players much-needed certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.

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The Kiwis are playing hardball, last month asking RA to submit an expression of interest for two Australian sides to join New Zealand’s five Super Rugby Aotearoa outfits and a Pacific Island side in a preferred eight-team competition.

But Clarke isn’t copping that and Uelese has applauded the interim chief executive’s courage to fight for the inclusion of all five Super Rugby AU franchises – the Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs, ACT Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force.

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“There’s an immense amount of talent in Australia here, especially in WA and Victoria and we have gone and shown that,” said the Rebels rake and Wallabies’ World Cup hooker.

“There have been doubts about how the Rebels were going to play at the start of this season and we have shown the amount of depth we have and the pathways we have with Victorian players coming through the system. So if you take away a team from there, that means the amount of talent that goes around the whole of Australia is really missed.”

The Rebels have blooded 16 rookies in 2020 yet can still go top of the table, leapfrogging the Brumbies, with a bonus-point win over the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night. “It’s huge to have the Rebels up there,” Uelese said, adding that it was vital for a new competition format to be settled upon one way or another ASAP.

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“Many of us players in Australia are not too sure about what the future is going to hold,” he said. “So having this kind of plan, having a (set) date, is huge and it’s big ups to the RA and the board putting plans ahead so then we can lock in our future.

“Our life span as footy players is not very long so having that future here in Australian rugby is huge for us players who want to stay here and hopefully for future Wallabies who want to stay in Australia.”

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