Japanese not interested in ‘sinking ship’ Super Rugby

The idea of a Japanese side in an expanded Super Rugby  tournament has taken a blow as Josh Blackie says that the Japanese are not as interested in the idea as first thought.

Australian Rugby Union boss John O’Neill has been pushing the concept of a Japanese franchise.

The franchise would most-likely be based in Australia, with Melbourne the leading contender to be the host city for the proposed 15th team.

South Africa and Australia are battling it out for the 15th team and it has been suggested that if the team is based in Australia it could include Japanese-based talent, including home-grown players and imports who play in Japan’s lucrative club competition.

However, Blackie, who is now playing in the Super 14 for the Blues after spending a year playing in Japan, says the idea has its clear pitfalls.

“What I have heard through the (Japanese) media is that they are not really interested in being part of a sinking ship sort of thing,” Blackie told Yahoo!Xtra.

“That is just what JK (Blues coach John Kirwan) has said about the whole situation.

“I am sure if it was an attractive enough package for them, (it could work). For their game to go forward they have to be in a competition where their players are exposed week-in, week-out to the level that Super 14 can produce.

“The biggest danger would be that they brought in and paid money for international players to go and play there. It would just be a waste of time if they want to get their players any better.

“It would be just like the Japan national team at the moment. They are just second-rate players who haven’t made it in other countries, but they are playing for Japan.

“The Japanese are never going to get any better if they keep pursuing players who are not Japanese and have been living there for three years.

“They are not going to get any better.”

However, Blackie said strict control of the make-up of the side, ensuring it was actually based around home-ground players, could see it become a success.

“If there were some rules around it and it was the Japanese players playing at that level, then it would be quite a good thing for Japanese rugby,” he said.

“But it would take them two or three years to get to a decent level.”

Meanwhile, the former Junior All Black has revealed his return to New Zealand rugby could be a short-lived stay.

Blackie, currently sidelined with an ankle injury, says he could be returning to Japan as quickly as the conclusion of the Super 14.

“I still have the option of going back after the Super 14. I don’t really know yet,” he said.

“I will probably weigh things up in May, see how I have gone once I get over injury.

“If I feel I still have a bit to offer in terms of playing well, I will probably look to stay here. But we will see how it pans out.”



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