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SANZAR told to prioritise player welfare
February 28, 2014

Chiefs assistant coach Tom Coventry wants to see player welfare prioritised during discussions about the new Super Rugby format.

SANZAR announced last week its intention to expand to 17 teams with the inclusion of a sixth South Africa side and one based in Argentina for 2016.

But many teams already are suffering high attrition rates due to the ever-increasing demands on players, and Coventry - whose Chiefs side has a huge casualty list - is adamant something needs to change.

"I think the amount of football our players are having to play is excessive," he said, citing Test and provincial commitments.

Gareth Anscombe (shoulder), Robbie Robinson (hip), Tom Marshall (thumb) are yet to play for the two-time champions this year, while Mahonri Schwalger (knee and eye) and Tanerau Latimer (elbow) return from injury against the Highlanders on Saturday night. Schwalger missed the whole of the 2013 ITM Cup with a knee problem and then required eye surgery, while Latimer returns after elbow, hand and pectoral issues. Brodie Retallick (neck), Ben Afeaki (head), Augustine Pulu (knee) and Kane Thompson (groin) were casualties in the 18-10 win against the Crusaders last week, and Sam Cane (knee) is still weeks away from a return.

"Player welfare has to be at the front of their minds when they're deciding about how a competition should look," Coventry said. "Monetary gain and promoting a program with lesser-quality athletes isn't nearly going to be as appealing."

© AAP
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