Nic White is expected to turn down offers overseas for the opportunity to drive the Wallabies’ World Cup campaign forward next year in France.
And, in a double dose of good news, uncapped Wallabies lock Nick Frost is moving closer to reneging on his deal with Robbie Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights to also remain with the Brumbies.
The news hoses down fears the walls are crumbling around Fortress Rugby Australia, with the governing body only tweaking their eligibility laws earlier this year.
A closer examination will see the Wallabies are quickly developing depth in every position, with multiple strong options throughout the line-up – with the exception of fullback and hooker – even if questions around the sustainability of five Super Rugby franchises remain. Only the Brumbies defeated New Zealand rivals on the weekend.
Securing Taniela Tupou and Suliasi Vunivalu is next on the agenda, with Rugby Australia confident both men will remain.
Vunivalu is said to want to appear at next year’s World Cup, while RA wants to pin down Tupou sooner rather than later.
While reports emerged on Friday that White was considering a move to Japan on a $1m deal, it is understood RA is confident of keeping the senior Wallaby for next year’s World Cup.
Although Tate McDermott and Jake Gordon are competent international options, and Ryan Lonergan has impressed over the past 12 months and is a gun goal-kicker, White remains Wallabies coach Dave Rennie’s first-choice No.9.
McDermott might have the best running game in Australian rugby, but World Cups are generally won and lost on experience and tempo. With 45 caps, White has experience and is a cunning halfback.
Importantly, too, he knows what World Cups are about as a member of the team that were dumped out by England in 2019.
But unlike 2019, where Australia’s selection panel could not decide between players in the key positions of 9, 10, 13 and 15, RA management believes White is in the box seat to play halfback in France next year.
Antoine Dupont’s ascension as the world’s best player has once again revolutionised the way halfbacks are seen, with the triple threat from the base of the ruck re-emerging as rugby’s biggest attack weapon.
Attack starts with the halfback and, as Dupont showed throughout France’s Six Nations grand slam, it stops with him too.
White’s likely retention will be warmly welcomed by Rennie, who has the 31-year-old as a key member of his leadership group, and Stephen Larkham too.
Larkham will return to the Brumbies next year and White’s retention, if only for one more season, is critical, with Tom Banks and Irae Simone heading overseas.
And with Noah Lolesio’s future in the balance – a decision will be made this week on whether he heads to Japan – Larkham faced a mass exodus just as he was due to return to Canberra after three seasons as Munster’s assistant coach.
News of Frost’s change of heart is another win for RA, with the 22-year-old one of the most exciting young prospects in the game.
Frost, a former state runner who was recruited by the Crusaders out of high school, signed in Japan earlier this year to join former Wallabies coach Deans at Panasonic. But, after initially being considered a Wallabies prospect beyond next year’s World Cup, Frost’s form saw him included in Rennie’s training squad earlier this month and he remains an outside chance for the England series in July.
The selection – and his continual development – has seen Frost reconsider his future.