Aussie board 'caught with its pants down' over Cummins
July 11, 2014
Nick Cummins played his last game for the Force - for the time being © Getty Images
Australian rugby was "caught with its pants down" in letting Nick Cummins leave for Japan, Western Force coach Michael Foley said.
Cummins chose not to speak to the media after his farewell game for the Force against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night, advising that he was off for a "few drinks with the boys" while leaving the dressing sheds with a slab of beer on his shoulder. But Foley had no qualms shouldering the Force's share of the "Badgerisms".
Cummins was released from his Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Force contracts one-year early on compassionate grounds to earn more money in Japan in order to provide for his sick family. But Foley believes the union could have done more to retain one of the game's most recognisable faces.
"Australian rugby in my opinion got caught with its pants down letting him go to Japan," Foley said after the 47-25 loss knocked his side out of finals contention. "It's something we've got to think really hard about. At a time where we're talking about the commercial challenges of the game, and we let a player like that go. And I don't mean just an international player but a player with that profile and that appeal across demographics that very few other players touch."
Foley was full of praise for the 15-Test winger's character both on and off the field. "He makes big tackles for us, he makes big runs for us, he's wholehearted," Foley said. "He rips in. He's fearless in the way he plays. He's the only winger that's ever come back from Test duty with a sore neck; I don't know how that happened but the reality is he runs hard at the contact.
"Off the field he's a character, he's very different. He fishes on his day off. He adds a lot of colour to the team, and we'll miss him."
Foley also indicated he would work hard to have Cummins loaned back to the Force next year - as George Smith returned to the Brumbies in 2013. "As a coach I'd really love him to come back. I'm encouraging Mark [Sinderberry], our CEO, to make it happen because I think he's excellent for us."
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