Rugby Australia’s ‘challenge’ in retaining talent

Rugby World Cup finalist Justin Harrison has questioned how Rugby Australia can keep “players invested” in the sport Down Under following reports that Izaia Perese may be on the move.

As reported earlier this month, Perese may be set for a move up north with English clubs Leicester and Harlequins both looking to secure the Wallaby’s services from next season.

Stan Sport commentator Michael Atkinson raised the talking point on Rugby Heaven this week by mentioning that recent reports had suggested that Perese had put pen to paper with the Leicester Tigers.

Perese has been a clear standout from the Waratahs across the opening four rounds of Super Rugby Pacific and appears to be a strong candidate to start in the Wallabies’ midfield this year.

But as former Wallaby Justin Harrison discussed on Rugby Heaven, this is an example of the “challenge” that Rugby Australia seems to be constantly battling.

“It shows you  the challenges that Australian rugby has got around keeping talent and nurturing talent,” Harrison said.

“Developing talent, starting to get some pay out of it and then you start to lose them. That’s a real validation of what we’re doing down here in producing talent in Super Rugby Pacific… how do we keep those players invested in Australian rugby? That’s the challenge.”

Australian-based CODE Sports also reported this week that world-class prop Taniela Tupou had received an offer from four-time European champions Leinster.

Tupou, who has only played four matches for his new club the Melbourne Rebels, would reportedly join the European heavyweights at the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Reds utility Jordan Petaia has also been linked with a move to the NRL with the St George Illawarra Dragons, and there’s been some debate around Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii.

But this all goes to show, just like the Perese situation at the Tahs, that this is all part of the professional game.

“I don’t think it should become a distraction for the Tahs, that’s the nature of rugby,” Wallaroo Sera Naiqama discussed. “There’s constant rotation and turnover.

“Perese, while he’s adding so much value to the Waratahs right now, I think that’s what we should focus on, he’s here until he’s not.”

The Waratahs will have Perese at their disposal this season at least, and the New South Welshman will call on their star centre to shine as they seek a resurgence of sorts.

Following back-to-back defeats to New Zealand opposition by a combined four points, the Tahs sit just outside the top eight in ninth place.

The Waratahs are the second-worst Australian side on the Super Rugby Pacific ladder – ahead of the Western Force – with just one win from four starts to date.

But as Super Rugby champion Justin Harrison explained, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.

“Change is dangerous. When you’re coming that close, you really have to start looking at making sure you’ve got faith in the structure you’re doing, what you’ve done in pre-season, all of that stands true.

“Not being far off is almost close enough to keep working away.”


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