Thu, 17 Jun 2021

Quade Cooper believes Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby teams should consider making a switch to play in a Japanese competition.

The 33-year-old currently plies his trade at Japanese second-division side Kintetsu Liners alongside former Wallabies, Reds and Rebels team-mate Will Genia and the duo have been impressed by the standard of rugby in that country.

Japan's progress showed at the 2019 Rugby World Cup which they hosted and they did well to beat Ireland and Scotland before eventually bowing out in the quarter-finals to eventual winners South Africa.

In 2016, the Japanese team the Sunwolves made their debut in Super Rugby but they struggled to compete and were eventually axed from the tournament in 2020 after winning just eight matches in the four completed seasons which they played in.

Cooper acknowledges that the Sunwolves experiment was a failure, and he has come up with a radical solution: let some of the New Zealand and Australian franchises teams play in the Japanese competition.

"A lot of the time we think of it as putting a team in Japan to have an opportunity to compete in Super Rugby," he told AAP.

"But the competition that is very strong at the moment is the Japanese league. So in my mind you would be inviting a team from Super Rugby to come over here and join into that.

"We've tried it the other way around, we put the Sunwolves in, and it wasn't the best experience. But the fan base here (in Japan) is amazing, the strength of the companies is amazing.

"Everything here seems to be going in the right direction. I feel like at some point it has to be taken into consideration.

"You might incorporate two of the Australian teams and two of the New Zealand teams."

Genia also likes the idea of seeing some type of cross-nation tournament featuring teams from New Zealand, Australia and Japan.

"There's an abundance of talent here," he said.

"Japan at some point has to be incorporated into Super Rugby. We're in the same time zone, you've got quality players.

"And if you look at some of the strong top league teams - Suntory, Kubota - as their rosters sit, they'd be competing with Super Rugby teams, I have no doubt."

Source: News24

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