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Mitchell, Ashley-Cooper test overseas options


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The Breakdown: Izzy's copped a bad rap

With all the hype surrounding Israel Folau's start with the Waratahs, he proved no worse than any of his teammates, who have no excuse for falling off tackles.

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Could the Waratahs and Wallabies lose Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper next year? The Breakdown understands both players are taking a long, hard look at their options. Mitchell is understood to be in contact with Irish club Leinster, French club Toulon and at least one other Top 14 team, while Ashley-Cooper is interested in Japan. Age might have something to do with it. Mitchell, who returned from a bad ankle injury to make the Wallabies' spring tour last year and notch his 101st Super Rugby match, turns 29 this year and is well aware of the talent waiting in the, errr, wings. For both players, who are off contract at the end of this year, the matter will hinge on timing. Both the Waratahs and the ARU are a little way off opening formal negotiations with their players but northern hemisphere clubs, whose seasons start much earlier, want answers soon.

Brakes on Barnes

Another Waratah could have his plans to move offshore scuppered. Berrick Barnes has been cautiously enthusiastic about a possible move to Japan to play for the Panasonic Wild Knights but the Breakdown is hearing the chances of the Wallabies playmaker securing an early release from the ARU are slim. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans may yet have to play bad cop with his Mr Reliable if this year's Super season breaks as many fullbacks and five-eighths as it did last year. There is also talk the Wild Knights are still perusing the market for a playmaker. That's important because if the deal with Barnes was a sure thing, the Wild Knights would have no reason to keep looking.

Club-hopping time? ... Drew Mitchell.

Club-hopping time? ... Drew Mitchell. Photo: Getty Images

The final word

The ARU has not ruled out sending back Test players to their Super Rugby franchises for a crucial derby round before the British and Irish Lions tour in June. The ARU confirmed it would give Wallabies coach Robbie Deans the requested three-week window to prepare for the Lions, with a 25-man squad going into camp on June 2. That means the Rebels, Brumbies, Force and Waratahs, which all play in round 17 matches the following weekend (while the Reds play the touring side), will be without their Wallabies players at a potentially do-or-die point in the season. But ARU chief Bill Pulver said he would consider releasing players if finals spots hung in the balance. "If those Super Rugby matches have significant bearing on the competition standings, and finals spots are at stake, ARU will take that under serious consideration," Pulver said.

Security question

There was drama and intrigue on the pitch on Thursday when security tried to stop Fox Sports News doing a live cross before the Rebels captain's run at Allianz Stadium. Reporter Louise Ransome was 30 seconds from going to air when a security guard told her and the cameraman to "move on" from the empty pitch. The guard then stood in the background and forced the studio to delay the cross, saying "the Waratahs" had requested their removal. The Waratahs denied sending security onto the pitch, which raises the question, who did? Security later apologised to the Rebels – though not to Fox Sports News – who could have reasonably been of the opinion that a television interview before a Waratahs' home game would surely help NSW and Allianz Stadium sell tickets, not give away state secrets. Ransome eventually made the cross and, mercifully, was allowed to stay for the rest of the session but not before four separate groups were drawn into the discussion, before a single football boot hit the turf. Good times!

Tahs connect

Credit where it's due to the Waratahs, who have talked the talk about reconnecting with the heartland and being more accessible. It appears they are also prepared to walk the walk, offering free membership to all of last year's registered NSW junior players, meaning free entry to all Waratahs home games. The only charge is a $9.95 administration fee. The Tahs have also slashed the price of their match programs from $9 to $5 after bringing the operation in-house, with the help of Jim Davis at Rugby News.

Walker for Sevens

Great to see dual international Andrew Walker still having a crack. Walker, who battled alcohol and drug issues at times during his career in league and rugby, is playing in the Ella Sevens Rugby tournament in Coffs Harbour on Friday and Saturday.

10 comments so far

  • AAC hasn't done much for the waratahs or wallabies since leaving the brumbies, I often struggle with why he starts games when we have so much other talent out there. I hope he proves me wrong this year

    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 6:52AM
    • I don't know what games you watch, but AAC is stil our best No 13 and one of the best in the world. Most games in the last 12 months his efforts have surpassed many of his more headline heavy counterparts. He is the true workhorse of the Wallabies side.

      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 11:17AM
  • Gee, hardly breeds confidence in your national team when we are concerned if these two take off, solid if not generally consistent players when at their best, far from it now.

    With all due respect to Drew and Adam, I would jump before you are pushed lads

    Date and time
    March 01, 2013, 7:32AM
    • Habitual underperformer - AAC - let him go now - give turner a run in the centers
      Mitchell needs to play a full season before he has any bargaining power - past performance is not an indicator of future performance.
      Would have thought he owed NSW plenty after playing no rugby for so long - we own his ankle !

      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 11:34AM
      • @gman

        Ha ha....but a bit harsh on ACC ??

        inner west sydney
        Date and time
        March 01, 2013, 12:44PM
    • I like AAC & Drew. However IMHO the Tahs need to make it clear that old hands need to perform or else. I am wondering if they have it in them to lift to the level we need them to be at for the Tahs to be successful. Age and injury are just real considerations for the professional sports person, so these guys looking elsewhere makes perfect sense to me.

      Bill Blinky
      Bellingen NSW
      Date and time
      March 01, 2013, 1:20PM
      • Drew and ACC critical to a completely new back line makeup having any chance of gelling together. ACC at fullback takes away the pressure that top no. 10's too easily apply to vulnerable 15's. Some experience in the backline in key positions please, so don't throw the baby out with the bath water. At least for one whole season.

        Wes Shaw
        Date and time
        March 01, 2013, 2:21PM
        • Go for it Adam and Drew, as you wont make the sort of money the over sea's interests are offering you, here.

          Date and time
          March 01, 2013, 3:41PM
          • Hardly surprising about AAC going OS. he has never looked comfortable in the sky blue compared to the Brumbies colours. Plus the way he was treated on leaving the Brumbies probably left a bad taste in his mouth about Australian Rugby in general.

            Date and time
            March 03, 2013, 2:55PM
            • Without a doubt Drew Mitchell was the Waratah's back on the field this weekend past.

              Date and time
              March 03, 2013, 9:40PM

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