Super Rugby Round Table: Giteau Law update? Have Blues turned corner?

Samu Kerevi runs the ball for the Wallabies during Bledisloe I, August 10, 2019 Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Super Rugby's first ever regular season double-header will be played on Friday in Wollongong when the Brumbies and Sunwolves face off a couple of hours before the Waratahs and Chiefs do battle.

Here are some of the key discussion points from the week in rugby.

Is Australia's Giteau Law in need of an update?

Sam Bruce: First up, kudos to Rugby Australia for at least being open to discussing the Giteau Law. It's no secret a review of the foreign-eligibility clause has been underway for a while now, and given the dynamic phase the rugby world finds itself in right now it's important that the governing body examines the influences that are affecting the global player market. The Giteau Law has now also existed for one complete World Cup cycle, so RA will have plenty of data on just who went where, and who may have returned to Australia, ahead of last year's tournament. Personally, I think that given the growth in Japan and a looming upgrade of its Top League, a reduction to five years' service or 40 Tests would reward those who have contributed to Australian rugby for a decent stretch but then also allows them to capitalise on what is likely their peak earnings period overseas, too. That would bring a player like Samu Kerevi, who really only started to deliver on his Test potential last year, immediately back into the fold; he would be seven Tests short on the caps mark but would be clear on the five years of service.

Brittany Mitchell: I think a reduction in years served and scrapping the caps limit could be the best way to tweak the Giteau Law without impacting its importance. While Rugby Australia faces the risk of losing talent in an already struggling Super Rugby competition, they give themselves room to move when selecting overseas players by ensuring they get at least five years out of their star players before they make the inevitable move to the UK, Europe or Japan. The current seven-year service, 60-cap threshold only suits a few overseas players, while the likes of Samu Kerevi, Sean McMahon and Tolu Latu are lost to the rugby wilderness. All three have served over five years in Australia but are well down in the number of Tests played. If Australia wants to select its strongest Wallabies team and win World Cups they need their strongest players. Unfortunately, Australian rugby is never going to be able to keep all of their strongest players at home, so a revision of the Giteau Law should be undertaken.

Are you in favour of Dan McKellar making a move to the Wallabies?

SB: Dan McKellar is developing into a fine coach, but he deserves the chance to finish what he started with the Brumbies. He is the clear choice to succeed Dave Rennie after the next World Cup - as Rugby Australia has already expressed its desire to return to an Australian as Wallabies coach from 2024 - but there is no reason why he needs to join the Test setup this year. Having made the semifinals last year, the Brumbies are well placed to push for the title over the next couple of years and they could do without the distraction of having McKellar switching between the two roles. Let him concentrate on the job at hand for the remainder of this year- and next - and then he can commit wholeheartedly to the Wallabies and still get a two-year Test apprenticeship under Rennie.

BM: When the Wallabies call, you answer. Getting the chance to undertake an apprenticeship under incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is an opportunity McKellar must take. Taking over the Brumbies two years ago, McKellar saw them through a rough patch to start with and then onto the 2019 Australian conference title and the semifinals. After five rounds in 2020, the Brumbies sit at the top of their group again and don't look close to being caught by their Aussie rivals. The work McKellar has already done with the Brumbies has proven his capabilities and to have him in the international fold can only improve both the Wallabies and his coaching skills. If you're worried about the Brumbies, don't, they've already got a proven head-coach in their ranks in Laurie Fisher who has previously led the club and contributed to their 2004 Super 12 success. If Australia want to avoid the issue of hunting down a new international head coach at the end of the 2023 World Cup, moving McKellar into an assistant role now with plan to move into the head coaching role is the perfect solution.

Have the Blues turned the corner?

SB: The Blues won't be taken seriously until they defeat a fellow New Zealand franchise this season, but we shouldn't underestimate their achievement of winning both games on tour in South Africa. The win over the Stormers was particularly impressive give the Cape Town-based side had previously been undefeated. Have they turned the corner, though? Yes, I think they have. The nature of that win in Cape Town should be a springboard into Saturday's game against the Hurricanes who are playing well, though I'm not sure are the same team as the past few years. Even if the Blues do fall short this weekend, they can then regroup against the Lions and Brumbies in consecutive weeks before the bye. They then welcome back Beauden Barrett for the back half of the season, a place in the playoffs well within their grasp. They'll want to start winning at home, but a perfect three wins on the road this year suggest these Blues are made of sterner stuff.

BM: Winning on tour in South Africa is no mean feat. To do it twice, and in impressive fashion, is something to be applauded. But perhaps we shouldn't be rolling out the blue carpet just yet. The Blues' all-round game has improved; they're playing smarter, closing out matches better and their set-piece is looking strong. But they've got one big problem: they just can't beat Kiwi opposition. They've won just two games in their last 29 matches against New Zealand opposition - both last year - and have lost nine straight against the Hurricanes, Saturday night's opponents. Yes, their pack is looking strong, their lineout has improved since their opening match and their backs are showing encouraging signs, but I might wait one more week before jumping on the Blues bandwagon.