Rugby Championship

Cheika upbeat on Indo-Pacific league plans

2017-09-15 18:30
Michael Cheika (Getty Images)

Canberra - Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest's mooted Indo-Pacific league can help improve rugby in Australia, but only if the mining billionaire works with the Australian Rugby Union.

Plans for the six-team competition were flagged by the chairman of Fortescue Metals this month after Perth-based Western Force lost an appeal against their controversial axing from Super Rugby.

Cheika and Forrest met last week and the Wallabies coach said he left feeling positive about the fledgling league's potential impact on the game.

"The one thing I walked away from that meeting (thinking) is that's a guy who genuinely wants to try and make rugby better in Australia," Cheika told reporters in Canberra late Thursday.

"And he's obviously got resources and he feels that if he can put those resources to improve rugby in the country, then that's a bonus.

"Now, it's a question of anything like that has to be done in collaboration (with the ARU) to have that effect.

"He was very keen to let me know that he's fought the hard fight for the Force and whatever happens from now on, he wants not only for them (Force), but also to make Australian rugby stronger. That's what we want, we want to try and have those types of people with us."

The ARU confirmed this week it was in discussions with Forrest, but it has yet to officially endorse his proposed league.

The mining magnate revealed he was negotiating with the ARU to ensure players who compete in the league would also be eligible to play Super Rugby and represent the Wallabies.

The new competition, due to start next year, would initially feature six teams, with Force one of them.

The other five would come from either Singapore, Hong Kong, Samoa, Fiji, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai, Tonga or Kuala Lumpur.

Cheika, preparing the Wallabies for Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Canberra, said it could be a great opportunity for "reunifying the game and building it to be stronger".

"More eyeballs on the game, more fans' interest, more resources for the game to increase its exposure and that's what we want, increased exposure in the game," he said.

"It needs to be directly connected, aspirationally and logistically."


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