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Australian Super Rugby players set to be rested

Will Genia is currently out of rugby due to injury

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Article Published: Wednesday 7 November 2012|

Australia's top Super Rugby players look set to be rested and rotated through the 2013 Super Rugby in order to avoid the injury carnage seen in Australian Rugby this year.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says that urgent player management talks have been held between the national and Super Rugby coaches and officials have taken place in recent weeks.

The Australian national rugby team is on it's fourth captain for the season due to injuries and the current captain Nathan Sharpe has postponed his retirement twice in order to help boost playing stocks.

2013 will be a crucial year for Australian rugby as the British and Irish Lions will tour for the first time since 2001 and are only expected back in another 12 years - possibly 16 years if Argentina is added to the rotation.

"In terms of international rugby, it's the first time in 11 years I have encountered this sort of carnage," Deans told The Daily Telegraph.

"And obviously the most obvious change has been the amount of top level rugby, we have the extension of Super Rugby and that change has manifested itself."

Injuries ripped through the Australian Super Rugby sides in 2012 and then continued through the international season and Deans has been forced to use 40 players in 11 Tests so far this year - more than any other Rugby Championship side.

Deans said that Australian Rugby had looked at the player management systems of Ireland and New Zealand where players are rested throughout domestic competitions.

Reports suggest that the Wallabies coach are in favour of adopting a system similar to the Irish one where a nominated group of Test players get regular rest and are rotated.

In Ireland top players start only six of eight games, with one game off and one game on the bench and when Deans was asked if Australian Rugby could adopt such a system he said, "It has to, and that's what we're spending a lot of time discussing at the moment.

"It is about the players. Look at Willie (Genia), he played 1280 minutes of Super Rugby."

Relationships between national and Super Rugby coaches in Australia and South Africa are always difficult as the coaches are judged on the team's performance both want their best players available to them whenever they need them.

Former Sports Minister Mark Arbib said in his governance review that repairing the "acrimonious" relationship between the ARU and the states - largely over player use - was the "most pressing issue in Australian rugby".

"New Zealand are managing their playing group more effectively. Super Rugby minutes, their international group sit at about two-thirds of our group," Deans said.

However New Zealand and Ireland's top players are centrally contracted to the Unions and they impose breaks for players when needed.

"Just look at the Irish, for example, who have won more Heineken Cups than anyone else, and New Zealand have won more Super Rugby titles than anyone else, those two groups are the ones who are rotating their international playing group," Deans said.

"It is not the international side, it's the franchises that are thriving."

Deans said that by bringing fringe players in and giving them game time will help to create depth and re-vitalise the top players.

"You get competition, standards lift, you get more enthusiasm. Whereas when you flog the same group all the time, they lose enthusiasm, so does the chasing group," he said.

"Then you pick up injuries, the chasing group aren't ready to go, everything falls over."

Player rotation and rest was discussed by the Super Rugby and ARU coaches at the CEOs meeting last week but Deans admitted that there was some hesitancy.

"You have a bloke like Michael Cheika, who has played with it (at Leinster), understands it and won a Heineken Cup with that system," Deans said.

"He is well versed with it. There are always fears, but they don't generally reflect the reality.

"When you go out beyond your existing space, there is always nervousness. But we have got to recognise what's in the best interests of the playing group and adapt.

"Otherwise nothing changes in the way we manage our group. And the trend is alarming."

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