The West

Players, ARU set to clash
Players, ARU set to clash

Super Rugby clubs and players are likely to clash with the Australian Rugby Union over the distribution of players in the inaugural National Rugby Championship.

Under ARU rules, all Super Rugby players not selected for the Wallabies' Rugby Championship squad must play in the new competition that kicks off next month, but each of the nine clubs is allowed only 16 Super players.

Force players not in the 33-man Perth Spirit NRC squad will have to make up the numbers at clubs interstate.

Several players including Nick Cummins, Kieran Longbottom, Hugh McMeniman, Phoenix Battye, Jayden Hayward and Salesi Manu have left the Force and others could be ruled out of the NRC through injury.

There will still be more than 16 players available and with the ARU negotiating where players will be drafted, some coaches and players are already unhappy with the procedure.

Another issue will be how the Force's South African contingent is used.

They are employed by the Force under their visa conditions and an NRC club would likely have to take over the contract.

Kyle Godwin (knee) and Luke Morahan (hamstring) will make their return from injury in the NRC and the Force will use the tournament to assess local club players and future recruits.

Force coach Michael Foley said the NRC would play a role in preparing players for Super Rugby.

“The NRC is an important initiative in a broader strategy undertaken by Australian Rugby to increase the depth of playing talent available for Super Rugby,” Foley said.

“Consistent with our determination to identify, recruit and develop local talent, we will be focusing heavily on players who have performed well in our Perth club comp to broaden the base of quality players locally.

“We have kept a close eye on the local comp and been in regular discussion with our club coaches regarding the selection of local players.

“We’ve had a number of local players such as Kieran Longbottom, Ollie Hoskins, Kyle Godwin, Justin Turner, Zack Holmes, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ryan Hodson and Luke Burton represent the Force this season and the NRC is a great opportunity for more local players to stake their claim for higher honours.”

The WA team's campaign starts on Saturday August 23 against the Canberra Vikings in Canberra.

The Spirit, who will wear a traditional gold jumper, play home games at McGillivray Oval on Sunday August 31, Joondalup’ HBF Arena on Sunday September 28 and on Saturday October 4 at Rockingham Rugby Club.

The West Australian

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