Australian sevens coach Geraint John hopes Super Rugby coaches will see that he’s willing to work with them over player availability.
Australian sevens coach Geraint John hopes his goodwill gesture to allow Liam Gill to break Commonwealth Games camp and play for the Queensland Reds on Saturday night will be noticed by other Super Rugby coaches.
Gill came off the bench for the Reds against the NSW Waratahs to earn his 50th Super Rugby camp, and the good news for the Australian sevens team is the gritty breakaway got through unscathed.
Australia leave for Glasgow on Friday night to battle for their first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal, and John admits it was a risk to agree to Reds’ coach Richard Graham’s request and release Gill so close to competition.
However, John says it was a calculated risk, with one eye on easing the political battlefield that is brewing in Australian Rugby over the sevens program.
The ARU are keen to invest heavily in sevens ahead of the Rio Olympics, but face a complicated conflict with Super Rugby coaches over player availability.
Graham was vocal in his disappointment at how the sevens team handled the poaching of Gill for the final rounds of Super Rugby – even though an ARU edict stated pre-season that teams outside of finals contention would potentially have to make players available for sevens.
John has made it clear since taking over as sevens coach that he’s keen to work with and not against Australian franchises.
“When I arrived, one of the big things I wanted was an improved relationship with the Super Rugby rugby teams,” John told AAP.
“I know there was a bit of different pressure around Liam when we first approached him. I don’t know the history of that because I wasn’t here.
“But Richard and I have been in conversation since Liam arrived. We sent a report back to Richard last week on how Liam progressed and did same with [Melbourne coach] Tony McGahan at the Rebels in regards to Sean McMahon.
“We want to help each other out because we need to do that for the sevens program. It’s a big plus.
“I hope other Super Rugby coaches will see that I want to work with everybody and work together. If we can do that then hopefully all programs will benefit from that.”
John agreed to Graham’s request because the Reds had injuries and were preparing for a local derby against the Waratahs.