Super Rugby: All Black Aaron Smith pleads for full trans-Tasman competition
Highlanders half-back Aaron Smith has a simple message for rugby bosses as the debate continues over the future of Super Rugby: “We need Australia.”
Crusaders CEO Colin Mansbridge made a similar appeal this week as doubts begin to emerge in Australia over the merits of full trans-Tasman competition, after two weeks of defeats that cut the wind in Australian rugby.
However, if Smith – who currently sits on the board of the mighty NZRPA – succeeds, a full 10 or 12 competition (with new entrants Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua) will be the future of Southern Hemisphere rugby.
“I really think we have to play normal, formatted Super Rugby against the Australians,” Smith said on Friday.
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“We lost to the Rebels the last two times we faced them. I only beat the Reds once at Suncorp [Stadium].
“Playing the Tahs in Sydney is tough. All of these games are tough in their own way and it’s probably the same for the Australians when they come here.
“But we need it. We need this Bledisloe bond, the bond between New Zealand rugby and Australian rugby to be strong, for our rugby to be strong.
New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia have said a decision on next year’s competition will be made by the end of June, with NZ Rugby expected to favor the 12-team format if Moana Pasifika and Fidjian Drua get it. full licenses.
However, that would depend on the support of Rugby Australia, whose president Hamish McLennan has also indicated that he likes the current format of a three-month UA Super Rugby followed by a shorter cross-competition against the New Zealand teams.
A constant regimen of losses would make it harder for the Australian rugby public to compete in full trans-Tasman competition, but Smith said a victory was imminent for an Australian team.
“The Australian teams are going to have a victory in this competition, and we have said in our leadership group that we don’t want it to be us,” said Smith.
“If we go into a game thinking it’s going to happen, and if we read the media about the sweep, someone is going to trip up, and someone is going to be embarrassed if you don’t show up.”
The Highlanders beat the Reds 40-19 in Dunedin in the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby opener and followed with a 25-15 victory over the Force in Perth.
Australian teams struggled to keep up with the intensity of their rivals Kiwi, whose ability to play with speed for 80 minutes was developed thanks to the tough competition of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
But Smith said Australians are not short on size.
“I know our boys against the Reds, you could just see when the scrums got packed, they were a bigger package,” Smith said.
“The Reds, Brumbies and Rebels packs are great men. And when we played this Force game, it was really physical, but we were able to control the crash zone because of how fast we could play.
“… Australians are so talented, so physical, and obviously the talent they can attract across the Pacific Islands is another avenue for them.
“Our boys love to play against the Australian teams. We played in Perth the other day and there were 13,000 people who loved it. The crowd was in there.”