One of the British and Irish Lions, Adam Jones, cuts an imposing figure at a media day in London this week.
One of the British and Irish Lions, Adam Jones, cuts an imposing figure at a media day in London this week. Getty Images

Country rugby players feeling frozen out by ARU

THE ARU has come under fire for a policy change that threatens to deny Sunshine Coast players the chance to confront the mighty British and Irish Lions.

In a first, city-based professionals of country origin are eligible for spots in the combined Queensland-New South Wales Country side that will play the Lions in Newcastle on June 11.

Conceivably, the entire country side could be made up of city-based professionals, or any non-Wallaby selection of country extraction.

As previously reported in the Daily, Coast players in line for country selection have downplayed their chances because of the eligibility of Super Rugby players.

This week, NSW Country captain Gavin Holder said it was "disappointing" the city players were up for selection.

Queensland Country and NSW Country recently drew 24-all, in a match that supposedly served as a trial ahead of the combined side being named.

Holder would like to see the country side made up of eight to 10 top-level players, with the remaining spots going to country-based players.

Stingrays coach John Rangihuna agreed spots should be limited to country-based players, although he could see the logic in wanting the city-based players in the team.

"It's a difficult one," he said.

"They don't want to see a lopsided score-line. No one wants to see a lopsided score-line. The Lions probably don't want that - hence they want it (the country side) bulked up with a few Super 15 players.

"Maybe a better way of doing it would be to have five or six spots for Super 15. Anyone else who wanted to play in that game should of gone up to Townsville to trial."

Rangihuna said the issue might die a natural death if his mail was correct, as he had heard Super Rugby clubs did not want their players involved in the match.

The Super Rugby competition will have a winter hibernation while the Lions are in Australia.

"It will be interesting to see how many guys got in who trialled in Townsville," Rangihuna said.

"There's a few big questions there. We'll find out when the teams is named."


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