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Thread: Mortlock seeks talks with new coach before deciding his future

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    Champion tdevil's Avatar
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    Mortlock seeks talks with new coach before deciding his future

    Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock would like to meet new Australian coach Robbie Deans as soon as possible to discuss his future - and that of the national squad.

    The World Cup and Brumbies skipper is yet to re-sign with the Australian Rugby Union, and is considering a reported $1.25 million-a-season, three-year deal from a Japanese club. But Mortlock, 30, told the Herald last night he wanted to speak with Deans one-on-one about the New Zealander's vision for the Wallabies and his own status before making a decision.

    Deans is in Sydney for tomorrow night's Super 14 trial at the Sydney Football Stadium between the NSW Waratahs and the Crusaders.

    "The plan was to catch up over the next few days," said Mortlock, who is undergoing rehabilitation for a shoulder reconstruction and will miss the first half of the Super 14. "It is something we had pencilled in to arrange with [Wallabies manager] Phil Thomson.

    "I would like to chat with Robbie about a lot of things. I would like to talk to him about his plans for the team, to get an insight and to use that as the starting point for talks from a Wallabies' perspective. But I also would like to learn his mindset on points about me. If I can do it or not, I don't know. I realise he is very busy and only has a few days here."

    Mortlock, who has also received offers from several European clubs, said he had heard the ARU's position on his value through its high-performance manager, Pat Howard. But he said "it would be good to do that face to face" with Deans.

    Deans yesterday said he never became involved in the contractual side of player negotiations.

    "The key thing from a coach's perspective is to know that the blokes who are there want to be there," Deans said.

    However, if a player coming off-contract wanted to discuss their future, he said he would be willing to talk with them if they felt it was a vital in helping them to reach a decision.

    "I am more than happy to, if the players initiate it c if they are seeking some form of assistance in getting to a position of clarity themselves, that is as good as gold," he said.

    Asked if he would be open to meeting Wallabies such as Mortlock, or NSW back-rowers Rocky Elsom and Wycliff Palu - who are off contract at the end of this season - Deans said: "Pat Howard has my contact details. If there is a player who is contemplating their future [and] felt that my stance was a critical component of that, then I would welcome that call.

    "But it is not for me c to go chasing them prior to that point. Players will make decisions and they will make them for their own reasons. It is not for me to impose my will."

    Julian Huxley is more than happy to revert to fullback if exciting youngster Christian Lealiifano shows he's ready to take over Steve Larkham's playmaker role for the Brumbies, AAP reports.

    Coach Laurie Fisher plans to give Huxley and Lealiifano half a game each at five-eighth in the final trial match against the Hurricanes in New Zealand on Friday. He must then decide who goes up against All Blacks No.10 Dan Carter when the Brumbies face the Crusaders in their Super 14 season opener in Christchurch on Friday week.

    Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher yesterday named eight Wallabies in a 26-man squad with captain George Smith, Stephen Hoiles, Huxley, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Mark Gerrard all set to take the field for the first time since last year's World Cup. Fisher said Lealiifano impressed against the Waratahs but admitted he was still to be fully tested in the heat of professional rugby and he was unsure who would take the five-eighth role so long filled by Wallabies great Larkham.

    "I try to keep as open a mind as possible and give the maximum opportunity to perform," Fisher said. "They're all quality footballers so it's important that they feel as though they've been given maximum opportunity to press for starting positions. I think that we need to make sure that their mind is settled."

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    As a rugby fan (ok - as an Asian rugby fan), Japan is a continual source of frustration to me.

    If rugby wants to become truly global it needs to establish a genuine presence in Asia and, unless the Chinese suddenly decide that they are interested in the game after all, Japan is it. With 125 000 players, they are only behind England, France and South Africa in numbers and with the financial clout to be able to offer someone like Stirling Mortlock $1.25 million a year to play in their competition, they should be well placed to mount some respectable performances on the world stage. However, as you well know, they are pretty much the perennial embarassments of the Rugby World Cup.

    The excuse that you always hear from people is that the Japanese are simply not big enough - and the JRFU probably uses this excuse themselves - but that's rubbish. Clearly that will always be a factor but if you look at their RWC performances, apart from some absolute maulings by teams such as Australia and New Zealand, the pattern is always the same: they'll actually hold their own very well for the first 3 quarters of the game and then get blown out of the water in the final 20 minutes.

    So what's the problem? Match fitness. Their season is ridiculous - 13 weeks of actual competition with maybe two weeks of finals if you make the top 4. This is compounded by the fact that the competition is basically amateur. The ability to regularly sign foreigners on 7 figure contracts - and all the ballyhoo about their renamed "Top League" - might create the misperception that the Japanese competition is a cashed up professional league like Europe or Super 14 but the reality is that only a couple of marquee players will earn this much on each team. The rest of them will have day jobs - primarily at the company that owns the team. Therefore, the majority of the league is not truly professional at all. In addition to this, the resulting club/corporation/employer - vs - country wrangles make it almost impossible for the national team to get any genuine time together.

    So the players are getting maybe 13 games a year, in a non-professional league, while maintaining a day job, with hardly any time with the national squad and they wonder why they never get anywhere? They keep talking big about making RWC quarter finals, and making their league one of the best in the world, and how important they are to rugby's global ambitions, but unless they reinvent themselves (like Japanese soccer did in the early 90's) and put some proper professional structures in place they will continue to be a rugby backwater.

    Sorry, that was a bizarre rant

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    Got to admit Beige to not knowing a cracker about Japanese rugby and therefore having nothing but ignorance to share......but that's never stopped me before, so here goes

    I would think that there is a bit of enamourment in the Japanese situation with paying huge amounts for foreign players and that is (to my mind) counterproductive in a couple of possible ways.
    Way 1 You buy a bunch of foreign players, who play for your team, and make your team a global powerhouse of club rugby. You keep papering over the cracks by importing more and more high priced foreign players. This vives you a world class club scene at the expense of your national team, since none of the local (read national eligible) players are good enough to play for the local clubs. (French division 2 team toulon would be approaching this situation now)

    Way 2 You spend a bunch of cash on 1 or 2 world class 'marquee players' and inject them into your club structure, they captain your team, they run all the plays and are the silver bullet (play number one in the playbook is pass it to Stirling and wait for him to win the game) Your local players don't get support or competition from the marquee player, they just see themselves as a delivery system, designed to put the ball in his hands.

    Either way, your national team suffers, your local guys don't see any added value from having Mr excessive salary on the roster and end up in the same state as ever.

    I think you're suggesting that Japan has fallen for trap two, rather than using the marquee player as an assistant coach of sorts, who is there to develop local talent up to a world class level. That's interesting coming from a society that is as group oriented as the Japanese, one would think that they would be all about improving the 'weakest link in the chain' as it were!

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    I share the frustration and would also love to see them step up to the next level - it is one of the reasons that I still wish RWC2011 had been awarded to Japan. I've never quite taken to the size argument either, as the law of large numbers still applies and certainly my sister's ex was a sizeable unit. Even more so the fourth lad in this clip...imagine a couple of them at the lineout!
    [YOUTUBE]http://youtube.com/watch?v=3Mqau7J2g5E[/YOUTUBE]

    I didn't realise their season was so abbreviated though. Makes me wonder whether a couple of composite teams (and include premium players as well) in an ARC style tournament could have been an attractive option? Make it a point of pride for the sponsoring companies how many of their local players make the team...

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    Immortal GIGS20's Avatar
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    That's one LARGE unit!

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    C'mon the

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GIGS20 View Post
    You spend a bunch of cash on 1 or 2 world class 'marquee players' and inject them into your club structure, they captain your team, they run all the plays and are the silver bullet (play number one in the playbook is pass it to Stirling and wait for him to win the game) Your local players don't get support or competition from the marquee player, they just see themselves as a delivery system, designed to put the ball in his hands.
    I think you hit the nail on the head there. There is an interview with Tamaiti Horua in Inside Rugby where he mentions that his workrate was actually very high in Japan because, being the foreigner, the ball kept flying to him all the time. Ironically, despite this, the Western Force still had to put him on an additional training program while he was over there so that he wasn't lagging behind once he came to Perth!

    One weird thing that can happen over there though - there is currently a limit of 2 foreigners (not including players from other Asian unions) allowed on field at any one time in a match. However, the top teams have 5 or 6 foreigners on their books, resulting in a lot of bench time for some of these guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyS View Post
    I didn't realise their season was so abbreviated though. Makes me wonder whether a couple of composite teams (and include premium players as well) in an ARC style tournament could have been an attractive option? Make it a point of pride for the sponsoring companies how many of their local players make the team...
    Well, apparently John Kirwan has presented his plan to the JRFU to take the Top League up to Super 14 standard by 2015 (yeah, good luck)... However, if that doesn't get anywhere, then composite teams would actually make perfect sense. The reason is that, historically, club rugby was based around 3 main leagues: East Japan, West Japan and Kyushu. This automatically provides some nice, and authentic, franchise boundaries. One problem is that East Japan is stronger than the other two areas, so you would probably have to combine Kyushu and West Japan into an all-encompassing West Japan franchise. (An alternative might be to copy New Zealand's draft system...)

    The problem then is finding a competition for these teams to play in! The ARC idea is a good one - and this was actually a stated expansion option when the original APC concept was being floated around a few years ago. However the NSWRU was never going to support it and, in fact, viewed the suggestion as an antagonistic move by the ARU. Another issue is that the Australian competition would have to be played in the June-August window so as not to clash with the Top League season.

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    I suppose something like the proposed Super 20 in the States would be another alternative, or slide the start of the Top League back a few weeks. It could be a good fit with the APC model they seem to be reverting to and, while the NSWRU might be hostile, the ARU might be prepared to overrule them if the international aspect made the competition more economically viable...

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Do you think this Super 20 will get off the ground? It seems like a bit of a Mickey Mouse competition to me.

    However, a link on another thread said that USA Rugby is supposed to be launching a professional 6 team USA-Canada competition this year, with Argentinean teams supposedly joining in 2009. I have my doubts about this one too but it at least seems to have an official grounding and some money behind it. You would imagine that the idea of franchises in East Japan (Tokyo being the obvious location) and West Japan (maybe based in Kobe or Fukuoka) would be attractive to them.

    I guess Pacific Cup is another option but probably not the best one from a professional standpoint.

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    Yeah, I was looking for that other post but couldn't find it. The ideal for mine would be a S14 type competition with, say, one team each from Chile and Uruguay, three each from Argentina and Canada, four from the US and two from Japan.

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Unless this USA-Canada competition proves to have some substance to it (I think it's just repackaging an old product personally), I think the idea you mentioned of a resurrected APC style competition is still the best fit for any hypothetical Japanese franchises - and it was discussed at the highest level here, even if it did get killed off by NSW. However, considering we can't even get our act together, they're probably better off fixing their own backyard Which probably won't happen

    I'm too pessimistic when it comes to rugby...

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    By the way, did anyone notice that Tamaiti Horua wasn't in the Force squad last night? That's because Toyota made the finals in Japan and he's contractually obligated to fly back and play for them!

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    Quote Originally Posted by beige View Post
    As a rugby fan (ok - as an Asian rugby fan), ....

    If rugby wants to become truly global it needs to establish a genuine presence in Asia and, unless the Chinese suddenly decide that they are interested in the game after all...

    Sorry, that was a bizarre rant
    But a fine rant Beige
    Not sure if you are indicating a rise in China being a good thing or not however you may be interested in this old thread I dug up from the TWF vault:

    The Impending Rise of Chinese Rugby - Western Force Rugby Supporters Site


    .

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    Veteran beige's Avatar
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    Thanks, Burgs

    I guess that was kind of a double-barrelled comment from me, where I implied that rugby would have huge potential if it caught on in China but was still unconvinced that the country has any kind of appetite for the game.

    That said, Zhang Zhiqiang had a short stay at Leicester Tigers a few years ago...

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    I'm tipping that China will have an appetite for Rugby when they are told to!
    And out of 2.5 million soldiers I reckon they just might be able to scrape together a handy 1st XV, it only takes the Poms 1 million SMP's!

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