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Brumbies to dominate University of Canberra Vikings squad for new competition

Dan McKellar will be the Vikings' coach.

Dan McKellar will be the Vikings' coach. Photo: Melissa Adams

The Brumbies hope to have most their squad play for the University of Canberra Vikings, but know some players could be transferred to other teams in the inaugural National Rugby Championship.

The Vikings are one of nine teams in the NRC alongside four from NSW, two from Queensland and one each from Victoria and WA.

The competition is a stepping stone between club and Super Rugby and will last 11 weeks from the end of August to the start of November.

The Vikings - led by Brumbies assistant coach Dan McKellar - will play their four home games at Viking Park in Tuggeranong. The team's licence will be shared by the Brumbies, the university and the Vikings club.

Each NRC team will have 16 Super Rugby-contracted players in the squad, while the rest will be made up of players from clubs.

Interim Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards said how many Brumbies were allocated to rival teams would depend on injuries and the number of Wallabies representatives the NRC franchises have.

"Based on last year when we had 10 or 11 Wallabies and a few injured players, we wouldn't have had to shift anyone,'' Edwards said.

"If we do have to shift anyone away, we will identify a few key positions where we would move some players so they can all get game time.

''It's a huge opportunity for the local guys to be playing at the next level.''

The Canberra first-grade competition will be finished before the NRC begins.

The NRC replaces the Australian Rugby Championship, which started in 2007 before it was canned after one year due to financial losses of $5 million.

"One of the real conditions put in place by the ARU is that each of the competing teams had to have a strong financial model,'' Edwards said.

''They've also done a deal with Foxtel to broadcast one game each week, so it's a more robust competition.

''It gives a great pathway for people in Canberra.''

The other teams are Brisbane City, Queensland Country, North Harbour Rays, Sydney Stars, Greater Sydney Rams, NSW Country Breakers, Perth Spirit and Melbourne Rising.

Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver dismissed concerns players would be burnt out, with only a short break between the Super Rugby season starting in February and the end of the NRC in November.

‘‘To think our elite season stops in July I think is nonsense. You would never design a season that way,’’ Pulver said.

‘‘Our players go on holiday.

''That doesn’t happen in any other country in the world.’’

 

 

 

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