A handshake agreement has reportedly been reached between the national body Rugby Australia and the four Australia-based Super Rugby franchises, with details yet to be finalised.
With 2019 being a World Cup year, it’s hoped that giving Australia’s top players extra rest throughout the regular season will benefit the Wallabies ahead of the showpiece tournament.
“What we’ve committed to is developing individual — almost like periodised plans — for our top players,” RA’s high performance manager Ben Whitaker said.
“That will be a process formed between national team staff and the respective Super staff of the player, and that will be the full gamut of things around programming, load management, training and playing etc.
“I don’t know if it will be exactly the same or copying New Zealand, but we will certainly be managing the individual players together and that will incorporate periods of rest, but it won’t be totally dictated by the Wallabies or Australia, Super Rugby will be involved in our planning.”
The agreement means there will be no more butting heads between the Wallabies and Super Rugby franchises.
Earlier this year Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika asked Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar to rest three of his stars before Australia’s three-Test series against Ireland in June, which McKellar refused.
Whitaker believes that despite the disagreement, positives have come out of the situation.
“Every time you’re involved a situation like that, things like communication, your strategy, your plans, your systems all come under scrutiny and often that’s the best thing that can happen because you learn from that and you know what needs to be done so it’s far more effective,” Whitaker said.
“And whilst that was an interesting, testing time for a lot of different reasons, I think everyone goes ‘getting through that we’ve got a better understanding of how we can approach that situation in the future.’
“And again, it’s probably a glass half full view of that, no one in our environment is shy of having a robust discussion and they need to be a part of what we’re doing.
“I’ve been around for a while now, I think in the past if you don’t get the result you wanted you lose and therefore you don’t rate what happened or the outcome.
“Whereas I think we’re a bit more mature in the plan that we’re running (now) and we can see that you need to look at it to support, in this case, national and Super endeavours.”
McKellar also supports the new player management plans.
“There’s been discussions already with the Super Rugby head coaches,” McKellar told Fox Sports.
“We sat down with Michael [Cheika] a couple of weeks ago at the high performances forum, all four coaches with Michael and Ben Whitaker, and it’s good that we’re having those conversations now and we’re planning in advance in November and avoiding the situation we had this year with the game going into the Sunwolves week — that wasn’t pleasant for anyone.
“I think in a World Cup it makes sense that our players that are playing big minutes in Super Rugby, big minutes at Test level, that we’re going to need to manage them well so that they’re in a position to perform well for their Super Rugby teams and importantly perform well for the Wallabies in Japan because that’s what we all want.
“Michael wants the Super Rugby teams performing well and winning and playing in finals and grand finals, as we all want to do, and equally we want to make sure that the Wallabies are given the best chance to put their best foot forward next year in the World Cup.
“We’re having those conversations and discussions now and I think there’s certainly some alignment there and some decisions will be made shortly.”
The Wallabies meet Italy this weekend for their penultimate test of 2018.
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