Wallabies rest period a farce: Jones - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies rest period a farce: Jones

By Jim Morton 09/01/2007 07:46:43 PM Comments (0)

Eddie Jones has ramped up his attack on the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) by labelling the Wallabies' reduced training agreement a "farce".

Jones denied an official reduced training agreement - known as an RTA - was in place and indicated he would defy ARU orders designed to prevent leading Test players from engaging in Super 14 trials.

The Queensland coach said he would have played Chris Latham - one of four Reds selected in a 22-man Wallabies list for a monitored training regime - in trials before he was seriously injured at the weekend.

The Reds are set to be cleared of any wrong-doing in Latham's injury, which the ARU admits was a "freak accident" when he tripped over during a training session.

He ruptured his anterior cruciate and medial ligaments and will be told he needs a reconstruction when he meets with surgeon Dr Peter Myers.

Latham, as one of Australia's likely World Cup starters, was meant to be limited to two 30-minute non-contact training session each week during the three-week RTA period leading up to the Super 14.

The RTA, a more states-friendly agreement than New Zealand's blanket seven-week Super 14 rest for 22 All Blacks, is designed to help players get faster and stronger.

But under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which the four provinces say they are operating under in conjunction with individual training programs, players can opt in for more sessions, as well as trials.

The ARU have only given the green light to NSW hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau to play pre-season matches while the Western Force are awaiting word on a requested to play winger Drew Mitchell.

The Force, Brumbies and Waratahs aren't expected to make any more requests but NSW coach Ewen McKenzie and Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher say it's the individual player's prerogative if he wishes to play.

Queensland has made no similar request but Jones, who intends playing prop Greg Holmes and lock-flanker Hugh McMeniman, believes the Reds can pick any keen player if they wish.

Holmes, out with a neck injury since August, last week asked the Wallabies if he could play trials but was denied.

"That's why the whole thing is a farce," said Jones.

"That sums it up beautifully mate, that's why it's a farce. We don't know what's happening.

"There's absolutely no agreement.

"We've spoken to the ARU strength and conditioning coach (Jason Weber) and we've got all out players on programs which we feel is appropriate (A) for them to perform in the Super 14 and (B) for them to prepare well for the World Cup."

On a day of confusion, the ARU reported the Queensland Rugby Union and all provinces had agreed to an RTA starting from January 6 which "ruled out trials".

"Requests will be decided on a case-by-case basis but certainly there's been no request about Queensland players playing in trials," said ARU spokesman Brian West.

"(Jones) has thrown the challenge out there and if he does that it will be a shame for rugby but we will deal with it at the time.

"I'm perplexed when he says there's no agreement because there is."

Jones said denying Holmes game-time would hurt the loose-head as he could find himself out of a starting spot due to the immense pressure from new recruit Ben Coutts.

"One he needs to play because of selection and two he needs to play because he hasn't played since the second last Tri-Nations game (last August)," the former Wallabies coach said.

"How can you stop a guy from playing games, to me that's incredible.

"Hugh McMeniman, he played less than 10 games last year, why would he be missing trial games?

"What he needs is trial games.

"They can always get bigger and they can always get fitter but in the end they need to play rugby. And you only get better at playing rugby by playing rugby."

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