Super Rugby teams are no longer interested in NRL big names. Instead, they are hunting league’s generation next.
The new direction in rugby union’s talent search is set to plunder the NRL’s depth.
Former Gold Coast Titans young guns Shannon Walker (ARU Sevens) and Joe Tomane (ACT Brumbies), North Queensland Cowboys centre Will Tupou (Western Force) and Brisbane Broncos winger Denan Kemp (ARU Sevens) were lured across the divide this season.
Former Titans rookie Jordan Rapana has also joined the Force after completing his two-year Mormon mission.
Force coach Richard Graham said NRL players aged 21-23 and with a rugby background were now seen as ideal recruits for Super rugby.
Over the past decade, the ARU spent millions recruiting established NRL stars such Wendell Sailor, Mat Rogers and Lote Tuqiri.
The latest batch of recruits has cost a fraction of that price.
Melbourne Rebels recruited Newcastle Knights winger Cooper Vuna and St George Illawarra Dragons prop Jarrod Saffy last year.
Brumbies recruit Tomane, 21, said young players were now unafraid to take opportunities in different codes.
“If there is a good opportunity to play consistent top-grade football, people are going to grab it whether it’s in league or union,” Tomane said.
“There was some interest from other NRL clubs but I wanted to play in the top grade and I thought my best chance was with the Brumbies.”