Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: NZ players would boost woeful Wallabies

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Wallabies' defeat in Paris underlined how paper-thin their playing resources are. Photo / Getty Images
Wallabies' defeat in Paris underlined how paper-thin their playing resources are. Photo / Getty Images

Tired of hanging about in a Super 15 team, waiting for your true talents to be recognised? Got a taste for international adventure?

Well, young Kiwi rugby players, check out those eligibility rules and set sail for Australia.

Australian rugby is in dire straits as most of us already knew despite the Wallabies' false-hope draw with the All Blacks in Brisbane.

Australia's massive defeat in Paris has underlined how paper-thin the Wallaby playing resources are.

The problems are fairly clear across the ditch, the solutions not so. Australia has too many professional teams and not enough high-quality feeder systems. Inferior players are being promoted into inferior teams, in an inferior Super 15 conference. In the process, a nice little player/money merry-go-round has been created, further diluting the competitive atmosphere.

The Wallabies can come up with a decent result now and then, particularly at home. But lacking sufficient quality and physical grunt, they can't string good wins together and for every step forward, can take three backwards.

Coach Robbie Deans is skating on very thin ice, even though a significant portion of the problem is not his fault.

The Wallabies are getting to a point where ruthless overseas recruiting will be imperative. New Zealand is the obvious hunting ground to find more Mike Harris-types (not that Harris is good enough to be a Wallaby).

Early Christmas for England

The IRB doesn't muck about when it comes to the rankings-related World Cup draw. December 3, yes December 3 next month, is D-day when the top 12 teams will be planted in three bands across four groups for the 2015 tournament in Britain.

Logistically, this haste may make sense if it helps a team like England know which five-star resort with cordon bleu-class room service and championship-quality golf course they need to book in to. Heck, you wouldn't want to leave it too late and end up having to check into some flea pit where the three-star Michelin chef only works on Fridays.

But this rush to judgment could lead to a disfigured pools system because the current rankings will be out of date. Delaying the draw would also give added meaning to more test matches between the tournaments.

Get on board RWC ride

It has been suggested that the current so-called festival of rugby internationals goes some way to making up for the loss of the old tours system, and that is a good point. Most of us have come to accept that the old-style tours aren't feasible in the professional environment. The World Cup rankings ramifications have helped make the weekend's Northern Hemisphere action a touch more interesting. It hasn't always been easy letting go of the past but the rugby scene is now World Cup-centric and in the end, you've got to join the ride.

Richie the sound of summer

I heard the sound of summer a couple of days ago - Richie Benaud. The cricket icon's voice came drifting out of a nearby TV set - which meant game on. Australia and South Africa have kicked the cricket season into action, thank goodness. There have been a few media stories involving New Zealand cricket - Jesse Ryder et al - but without anything riveting to watch backing the talk up. The Australian team lacks the lustre of old but when it comes to test action, you still can't beat settling in to watch cricket from places like the Gabba or the WACA.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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