Deans wants players rested

Deans wants players rested

PARIS: Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has called on the Super Rugby franchises to begin rotating Test players to save Australian rugby from the unprecedented ''carnage'' wrought by injuries this year.

Deans has used 40 players in 11 international matches this year - the highest of the SANZAR nations - and is staring down the prospect of further injuries with four Tests to play in Europe this month.

Halt ... the Wallabies' injury rate this year has been described as ''carnage''.

Halt ... the Wallabies' injury rate this year has been described as ''carnage''.

Photo: Dallas Kilponen

The case for the provinces resting their Wallabies players during the Super Rugby competition was put by the ARU to a nationwide coaches and chief executives meeting at ARU headquarters in Sydney last week.

Deans used a media opportunity in Paris this week, where the Wallabies are preparing to face the French, to publicly float the proposal.

''It has to happen and that's what we're spending a lot of time discussing at the moment,'' he said. ''Just the fact that the Irish have won more Heineken Cups than anywhere else and New Zealand's won more Super Rugby titles than anyone else and those two groups are the ones that are rotating their international playing group. And it's not just the international side, it's the franchises that are thriving.''


Ireland restricted Test players to six out of every eight provincial matches, Deans said. They must be rested completely for one game in eight and be on the bench in another.

New Zealand's rotational policies are well known. All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is sitting out the entire next Super Rugby season and the June internationals. Australia's Super Rugby teams are far less blessed with depth than their trans-Tasman rivals and there has been considerable tension surrounding the nationalisation of Queensland and NSW's academies. The Force this week announced their third international signing and the Rebels are still allowed up to 10 foreign players. A proposed trade-off for agreeing to rotate Test players is giving the provinces access to more players.

''The irony is, the moment you give [playing] access to your whole playing group, your whole playing group lifts because they know they're going to get an opportunity to prepare on that basis and it becomes vibrant, you get competition, standards lift, you get more enthusiasm,'' Deans said.

''Whereas when you flog the same group all the time, they lose enthusiasm and so does the chasing group. Then you pick up injuries … the chasing group aren't ready to go, everything falls over.''

Deans said he expected ''discussion'' and a hard sell to the provinces but cited Waratahs coach Michael Cheika as an example of someone who coached under that system at Leinster in Ireland. ''There's always fears but they don't generally reflect the reality,'' Deans said. ''We've got to recognise what's in the best interests of the playing group and adapt, otherwise nothing changes in the way we prepare and the way we manage our group, nothing will change and the [injury] trend is alarming.''

South Africa has used 38 players in 10 Tests this year, while New Zealand used 33 in 10 Tests. Reds hooker James Hanson became the 40th player to don the gold jersey.

''In terms of international rugby this is the first time in 11 years that I've encountered this sort of carnage,'' Deans said. ''Aside from sapping your playing resources it saps your energy because … you've got to reinvent the wheel and structure your game to suit the people you've got available.''

Georgina Robinson

Georgina Robinson is a Sports Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald

Most Viewed in Sport


Morning & Afternoon Newsletter

Delivered Mon–Fri.

By signing up you accept our privacy policy and conditions of use