Why a Super Rugby transfer window could save the Wallabies

Australian rugby has fewer problems with depth and more problems with sharing around our wealth of talent.

Why do the Brumbies have four hookers who could conceivably play for the Wallabies in the 2023 World Cup? Why do the Reds have five backrowers, all of whom would start for any club team in Europe and have opportunities for higher honours?

The solution to this would be to implement a trading system whereby teams could have the opportunity to fill gaps in their squads, thereby strengthening the club teams and increasing opportunities for players stuck in logjams of talent, improving playing time for the current and next generation of players.

I have come up with four different trades I think would benefit everyone involved.

Liam Wright for Cameron Orr

This trade is a win for both the Rebels and the Reds. The Reds have a very strong forward pack everywhere, including five starting-calibre backrow options, except for loosehead. Dane Zander appeared to miss every tackle he attempted against the Waratahs, and I don’t recall him doing anything else.

If the Reds want to compete against a very well put together Brumbies outfit, they will need to dominate the set piece and play off the back of a dominant scrum. Plus, keeping in mind the Kiwi sides later this year, if New Zealand have a lack of depth anywhere, it’s in the prop department. Cameron Orr on one side and Taniela Tupou on the other and the Reds are in business.

The Rebels look a bit lost so far this season. The other Australian teams have clear structures and game plans to try and win games. The Brumbies dominate lineouts and mauls, the Reds have the best scrum (with Tupou), the Force have fast physical forwards and try to dominate possession, the Waratahs have the bluest jersey. But the Rebels don’t seem to have an identity, especially in the forwards.

Liam Wright is a proven commodity and a leader and would have the opportunity to start at his preferred No. 7 position without having Fraser McReight breathing down his neck.

Liam Wright of the Reds

Liam Wright of the Reds (Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)

Matt Toomua for Izaia Perese

Carter Gordon doesn’t need or want a safety blanket. The Rebels lack punch in attack in the back row, so to counteract that weakness they need some punch in the centres or at No. 11. Instead they’ve given Gordon a ball playing No. 12 who can carry if he needs to and an elusive No. 11 who is better in open space than he is running into heavy traffic.

While I think Matt Toomua and Glen Vaihu are good players, the Rebels just don’t have the right team composition to fully utilise them. Enter Izaia Perese. He is the definition of punch, and with Rennie preferring a physical No. 12 with a skilful No. 13, his best opportunity to get minutes for the Wallabies is to beat Hunter Paisami as the second choice No. 12 behind Samu Kerevi. Plus, he’ll give the Rebels much-needed go forward, especially off set pieces, and bring some physicality and aggression to an otherwise stagnant outfit.

As a sidenote, when Andrew Kellaway comes back from injury, please shift Reece Hodge to No. 13 and leave him there. He’s big, can tackle and has good hands but isn’t quite elusive enough to be dangerous on the counterattack. He’s the prototypical No. 13. For reference see Henry Slade from England.

The Waratahs are in the opposite situation. Both wingers are strong, powerful runners, Will Harris will keep getting better and better at No. 8 and Angus Bell is a bonus backrow-like carrier at loosehead. But once they start going forward, they have no idea what to do.

Matt Toomua at No. 12 would work for the Waratahs because he could play like Irae Simone does for the Brumbies, a primary distributor at first receiver who still can threaten to run or kick. This would allow Ben Donaldson or Will Harrison to inject themselves when needed and play more heads-up rugby to get the ball into space and capitalise on the go forward.

Matt Toomua reacts after a loss

(William West/AFP via Getty Images)

Billy Pollard and Scott Sio for Suliasi Vunivalu

This one is a bit more far-fetched, but hear me out. Vunivalu is a luxury for the Reds, between Filipo Daugunu, Jordan Petaia, Mac Grealy, Floyd Aubrey, and Jock Campbell the Reds have plenty of depth and youth in the back three. The Brumbies are also a better-suited team for the skill set of Vunivalu.

Tom Banks had a good game against the Drua but tends to go missing against the Kiwi teams or in games when he’s up against a compressed rush defence and the opposition wingers put pressure on him in counterattack.

At the Reds, Vunivalu couldn’t shift to No. 15 because they play with the fullback as a second ball player more than as a strike weapon – and yet they still pick tiny centres, but don’t get me started.

At the Brumbies Irae Simone is the second ball player, while the fullback is more of a strike option in the wider channels or against over folded defences in the middle. Vunivalu would thrive in that system. At fullback he could also be the answer to the big, physical presence that Rennie appears to want for the Wallabies at No. 15.

As for the Reds, I’ve already spoken about the problems at loosehead prop, and Billy Pollard would run rings around Josh Nasser for the second-string hooker spot and would get consistent minutes not being stuck behind three other capped Wallabies hookers at the Brumbies.

Mark Nawaqanitawase and Carlo Tizzano for Fergus Lee-Warner

Why the Waratahs aren’t starting Nawaqanitawase and Tizzano I have no idea, but Nawaqanitawase would start at No. 15 for the Force, no question, and Tizzano would head back home to Perth and not have to compete with the incumbent Wallabies captain for minutes and be inexplicably behind Charlie Gamble in the pecking order.

They would inject some youth and X factor into a Force side that will surprise a lot of people this year.

Fergus Lee-Warner would give the Waratahs a good-calibre starting second-rower who can shift to blindside flanker when Lachlan Swinton inevitably gets banned for six weeks after trying to fight a corner post or headbutting a puppy during the post-game interviews.

Join experts Brett McKay, Harry Jones and Jim Tucker for Episode 2 of The Roar Rugby Podcast.

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Why a Super Rugby transfer window could save the Wallabies

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