Rugby players 'need rest, not more cash' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rugby players 'need rest, not more cash'

14/07/2008 08:30:11 PM Comments (0)

Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill has warned playing back-to-back seasons of union and league on opposite sides of the world was possible but not sustainable and could have disastrous affects on a player's longevity.

The topic has been thrust back into the headlines this week, with St George Illawarra NRL star Mark Gasnier poised to sign a deal with French rugby club Stade Francais.

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust suggested the only way NRL clubs could hang on to their stars would be to allow them to have off season stints overseas.

"I have spoken about letting these players play both, I don't think first class athletes really need the pre-season, why can't they play both," Doust said at the weekend.

"That is the only way that we could get these athletes that are a feature of our game to stay in our game."

O'Neill said it was not a new notion and doubted players could do it on anything more than a one-year basis.

"Players need rehab, players need a break, you've got to have at least three months off every 12 months," he said.

"Rugby league and rugby union are very similar games, the common denominator is they are very physical games.

"The dash for cash is inevitable, but it's real short term-ism, it's just not sustainable."

O'Neill said league was now confronting the same problem as his code, with cashed up European clubs chasing Australian talent.

"The private owners in France are after stars and they don't mind whether they are rugby league or rugby union stars and they go chasing them and they pay them extremely well."

O'Neill also hit back at the suggestions from his rugby league counterpart David Gallop that the promotion to the Wallabies squad of former league stars Timana Tahu and Ryan Cross meant league was the pre-eminent rugby code in Australia.

"I'm very fond of David, he's a great bloke, it's a very uncharacteristic comment from him," O'Neill said.

"Since 1969, 120 Australian Schoolboys have gone on to play for the Wallabies and sitting there in the stand yesterday at the Australian Schoolboys Championship in Canberra watching NSW versus Queensland in the final which Queensland won, I'm pretty comfortable that our talent programs are doing their trick.

"Ryan Cross was an Australian Schoolboy for rugby before he went to rugby league, it becomes a bit nonsensical.

"It was one way traffic from Dally Messenger, the first so called convert, through to 1995 when rugby union became professional.

"Its a pity that David (Gallop) probably had a bad week last week, getting into a (media) fight with a gladiator (actor Russell Crowe) and having some stoushes over television deals and he finished off the week by giving us a backhander, so I'm sure this week will be a lot better."

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