Australian sides would be a welcome addition to a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition if only to give New Zealand teams a rest from beating each other up every week, Hurricanes assistant coach and former All Blacks winger Cory Jane has said.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is looking to set up a new Super Rugby competition from 2021 involving its five teams, a Pacific Islands side and two to four teams from Australia.
Jane said the current Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, set up for New Zealand’s sides after the broader Super Rugby season was halted in March, was proving incredibly physical as every game was a local derby and All Blacks places were on the line.
“Obviously the Super Rugby we have been in at the moment has been good and people are loving it,” Jane told reporters on Monday. “But you ask most teams around New Zealand and they’d say their players are sore.
“Adding some teams to the competition is a must. You can’t have New Zealand teams going around and beating each other up.
“(If we) play each other three or four times … there aren’t going to be too many walking at the end of the competition.”
Jane added that Australian teams would be no pushovers.
“When you get a good Brumbies or Waratahs team that are confident, or a Reds team who are physical and into you, it’s hard to play them,” he said.
“It would be good to have them in this competition next year.”
Jane also commented on Ngani Laumape’s stellar performance against the Blues, saying he too would have opted for self-preservation when faced with the proposition of tackling the hard-running centre.
Laumape was at his best in the Hurricanes’ 29-27 victory over the Blues on Saturday with two storming runs through Otere Black and Beauden Barrett bringing the crowd to their feet and boosting his chances of making the All Blacks.
“I’d probably do what Beaudy did,” Jane said with his typical self-deprecating humour when asked what he would have done had he faced Laumape.
“I’d be thinking ‘I’m not dealing with this today. I have got more games in my career that I want to play’ and I would have moved out of the way.”
Laumape’s performance garnered praise from fans, pundits and former players and elevated his standing in the conversation of who would make Ian Foster’s first All Blacks squad next month.
It was a far cry from one columnist’s assertion last week that his direct style of play meant he was one-dimensional and unlikely to add to his 13 Test caps, something Laumape said after the game had motivated him.
Jane, however, said that Laumape was comparable to All Blacks’ great Ma’a Nonu, who faced similar judgements throughout his early career.
“Ma’a became one of the best passing 12s in world rugby but it also took a little bit of time for him to understand his game,” said Jane, a Hurricanes and All Blacks teammate of Nonu.
“(Laumape) is trying to figure out his game,” said Jane. “He can pass and kick (but) … if you want somebody to run hard and commit defenders then he’s your guy.”