Wednesday 29 March 2017

McGahan feels Aussie fast-track policy not right route for Ireland

As preparations continued in Limerick yesterday ahead of next week's visit of the touring Wallabies, Munster coach Tony McGahan gave an interesting insight into Australian rugby culture in relation to Irish player development.

Much has been made of the Australian philosophy regarding young players, with the likes of James O'Connor thriving under the guidance of Robbie Deans.

Aged just 20, the golden boy from the Golden Coast has already amassed 24 caps since making his debut two seasons ago and is a virtual 'veteran' of the Wallabies squad.

It's difficult to imagine a similar set of circumstances on this island, but McGahan argues that the Australian model is not necessarily the one for Ireland to follow.

Asked whether Irish players are protected too much, the Munster boss said: "You're coming from two different environments. You put players in that arena only if they are equipped physically, skill-wise and mentally.

"There's no use putting young blokes in there if they're not going to do well or if they're not going to survive. To just put them out there for them to lose and then carry on is not going to serve any purpose.

"There needs to be a purpose, and I think Irish rugby, with the players that have been around for the last while, have been successful.

"We probably have players who play for a lot longer over at this end," continued the Aussie native.

"You do need to take a gamble at times and there are going to be growing pains if you do that. As to whether the public and other people around are patient enough to put up with that is something else."

Next week's encounter against the touring Australians will be a special occasion for McGahan, who once had hopes himself of becoming a Wallaby when growing up in Queensland.

He said: "We'll be absolutely chomping at the bit to get a result. We've been keeping a keen interest on their progress in the Tri Nations and over the last two weeks and it's a fantastic opportunity for us."

Irish Independent

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