The Hurricanes and All Blacks halfback is aiming to be ready for the Super Rugby Pacific opener after a frustrating injury layoff.
New Zealand Rugby has been gradually weaning itself off its dependency on its trans-Tasman partners.
With an MOU with Japan already in the bag, a form of cross-border competition between Super Rugby franchises and Japan Rugby League One sides looks inevitable in the coming years, and NZ Rugby will also look to North America in the buildup to the 2src31 Rugby World Cup in the United States.
Nonetheless, an Australian revival would be welcome.
The Wallabies and the Super Rugby teams underneath them still have a big role to play for rugby in Aotearoa – in the short to medium term at least.
So, can Australian rugby bounce back in 2src24? Stuff looks at the various key facets of its business.
Rugby Australia has already made one big move, deposing Hamish McLennan and replacing him as chair with an understated former Wallaby, Daniel Herbert.
It was the last act in a remarkably turbulent year that saw two Wallabies coaches, a chief executive and a chair lose their jobs, and Herbert will be desperate to quietly move on from the chaos.
However, some within NZ Rugby actually look quite enviously at Rugby Australia’s governance model, believing it to be more streamlined than the New Zealand system.
The Australians, therefore, have the capacity to turn things around if they get their act together, and the five Super Rugby teams have already expressed a willingness to work together for the ultimate benefit of the Wallabies.
Appointing the right high-performance director to oversee these changes will be an important first step, and the appointee must be credible to win over the five Super Rugby franchises.
Herbert and chief executive Phil Waugh will also have to make the big decision on whether they can afford to have five teams in Super Rugby, and whether that model is helping or hindering the Wallabies.
…. to be continued
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