31 Aug 2021

Former All Blacks skipper urges Australian sides to step up

2:51 pm on 31 August 2021

Australia's professional rugby union sides need to improve or next year's inaugural 'Super Rugby Pacific' tournament could be hurt by a lack of competition, according to former All Black skipper Kieran Read.

Governing body SANZAAR has confirmed the 12-team tournament would kick off in 2022, bringing Pacific islands teams into the southern hemisphere provincial competition for the first time.

New Zealand's teams won 23 of 25 games against their Australian opponents in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in May and June, underlining the gulf between the nations' rugby programmes.

"I think if you look across the board at the competition next year, you're going to probably look at a 90%, 80% win rate for New Zealand teams," Read told Sky Sport.

Kieran Read

For Super Rugby Pacific to succeed Australian sides need to improve says former All Black captain Kieran Read. Photo: Photosport

"That's not great for the competition, and it's not going to be great for the guys playing the games.

"So, we do need Australia to step up and hopefully improve their performances."

Organisers appear to have anticipated a one-sided competition and have created a format that allows eight teams to qualify for a three-week playoffs, ensuring at least one Australian team will feature in the postseason.

Media pundits have floated the idea of a player draft to allow Australian sides to boost their squads with New Zealand talent but New Zealand Rugby (NZR) ruled that out in the short-term.

"Whilst we really want to make this competition as exciting as possible, of course as the governing body you have to keep an eye on the strength of our All Blacks, which is also pivotal to our strength as an overall rugby nation," said NZR high performance boss Chris Lendrum.

The All Blacks continued their dominance over their trans-Tasman rivals, thrashing the Wallabies 57-22 at Eden Park this month to secure the Bledisloe Cup for a 19th successive year.

The teams meet in Perth on Sunday for their second Rugby Championship clash.