Rugby News: ‘Only way to recover is to get injured’ – French star’s dire workload warning, Cooper and Rennie fail to fire
Les Bleus Fly-half Romain Ntamack has sent a dire warning about the workload professional rugby players are being subjected to at the top level.
The topic of player workload has continued to build over the last few years, especially with the comparison with the northern and southern hemispheres.
Australian sides have increasingly come under fire for falling behind in terms of time on the field compared to the likes of New Zealand and their northern hemisphere counterparts, who play over 30 professional games a year, excluding finals and international test commitments.
However, while the likes of the NZRU and Irish Rugby have a system in place that manages their players’ workloads, other countries do not.
The French Rugby Federation has an agreement with Ligue Nationale de Rugby over managing their Test stars. However, Ntamack, speaking to Midi Olympique, has warned that bosses seem determined to increase the workload by adding more competitions and games to the calendar, instead of trying to manage the workload.
“Everyone complains that there are too many matches but many still want to add more or create competitions.
“At some point, we perhaps also have to listen to the players.
“It would also be beneficial to work together more. We are not pieces of meat. We are sometimes tired and we still remain the main players in this game.”
Ntamack’s team, Toulouse, competes in the Top 14, France’s top division of rugby, and the European Rugby Champions Cup. Originally touted to be a lethal duo with Antoine Dupont that could deliver France their first Webb Ellis Cup in 2023, the 24-year-old suffered a severe ACL injury before the tournament, ruling him out.
He admitted that if France had managed to win, it would have been “one of the worst days of my life.”
However, the fly-half made a staggering admission over his current situation, arguing his long-term injury has helped him.
“The only way to recover and regenerate well today is to get injured over a long period of time. It’s unfortunate,” he admitted.
“I honestly don’t see, given the state I was in during the preparation this summer, how I could have continued with another season after the World Cup.
“Rehabilitation takes quite a bit of time. There are plenty of things to do. You have to relearn the knee to stretch and bend properly. Then I continue the cardio and work on my upper body.”
Ntamack is set to miss the 2024 Six Nations but is optimistic to return to the field in late March/early April.
Quade Cooper has disastrous debut in Japan, battle of ex-Wallabies coaches sees Jones prevail
Making his debut for the Hanazono Kintetsu Liners in Japan Rugby League One, Quade Cooper couldn’t have had a worse start.
Sent to the sin bin in the 11th minute for his side’s repeated infringements, by the time the veteran returned the Liners were down by 21 points, and it proved a bridge too far as he struggled to make an impact, eventually going down by 27 points to Ricoh Black Rams Tokyo.
The Rams, coached by fellow Australian Peter Hewat, scored three tries in each half, with Isaac Lucas getting on the scoresheet in the second half to round out their 41-14 victory.
Meanwhile, at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground, Dave Rennie’s Kobelco Kobe Steelers went down in an 80-point thriller to Tokyo Suntory Sungoliath.
Coached by Kiyonori Tanaka, Suntory is also advised by now-Japanese head coach Eddie Jones, who previously coached the side from 2009 to 2012.
Despite going into the break up 20-26, Rennie’s side was undone in the second half, as a flurry of points at the start of the second half to Suntory, including tries to Cheslin Kolbe, Kan Nakano, and Kosuke Horikoshi put the result out of reach.
Hannah heaps praise on All Black greats
If Australia is expecting improved performances in Super Rugby Pacific this year, they’ll have to go through the new New Zealand players coming through the ranks.
Crusaders youngster Jamie Hannah has heaped huge praise on greats Sam Whitelock and Scott Barrett for leading from the front and instilling confidence in Canterbury’s green shoots.
“It was unreal. Just the knowledge you get off some of those older players like Whitelock and Scooter [Barrett] the last couple of years has been unreal,” he told Stuff.co.nz.
“It just sets you up well if you do get a proper contract, so you know what you’re walking into.”
The veteran Whitelock, who overtook Richie McCaw’s record of the most capped All Black of all time at the last World Cup, recently departed the south island for a stint in the Top 14 at Pau. Barrett will be remaining at the Crusaders, and Hannah will be hoping for a better season taking the field alongside the veteran lock.
The 21-year-old had a promising start to his Super Rugby career in 2023, earning three caps for the Crusaders before picking up a shoulder injury.
However, new Crusaders head coach Rob Penney is optimistic the youngster will make a huge impact on their season, as they look to chase an unprecedented sixth title on the trot.
”He’s recovered really well from his shoulder operation, he just needs to be nurtured and needs to be given the opportunity to grow at his pace, there is certainly no lack of commitment and talent there,” Penney said.
“We just have to make sure we nurture it at the right time.”