Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Just how bad are the Australian teams?

The Melbourne Rebels are second in Super Rugby standings, despite having less competition points than four New Zealand teams. Photo / Getty
The Melbourne Rebels are second in Super Rugby standings, despite having less competition points than four New Zealand teams. Photo / Getty

Every New Zealand side except the Blues have more Super rugby points than any of the Australian teams.

That is unlikely to change after round 10 when the Highlanders host the flagging Brumbies and the Blues return to Eden Park against the Rebels who lead the Australian conference.

On points rather than the soft conference system, the Rebels are the solitary Australian side who squeeze into last place in the top eight, with statistics showing it is the weakest Australian conference since 2011.

Former Wallaby skipper Andrew Slack blames the downturn on administrators who were enticed into impatient expansion which spread the talent too thinly.

"Suddenly we have five teams when really we've got two and a bit," Slack said.

"You can understand why it was done. The broadcast stuff and the money ....they want to ensure they have enough product."

Every sport was doing it so rugby administrators followed when caution would have been more prudent. There were cliques of rugby interest in Perth and Melbourne but AFL was king in those cities and would be forever.

Expansion was a mistake but rugby felt it had to compete with AFL and NFL on the Australian sports landscape.

Slack did not accept however, that the Wallabies would struggle like the Super rugby sides. Some players would have form dips but many like Michael Hooper would work their way back into contention. "Hooper is the least of our concerns, we've got about 45,000 open-sides," he said.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 02 Oct 2016 08:03:36 Processing Time: 965ms