Brumbies’ young lock Nick Frost has reneged on a reported deal to join Robbie Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan to sign with Australian rugby through to the end of 2025.
It was reported last month that Frost was having second thoughts about leaving Australia having been given promising feedback about his national team chances.
Frost is yet to be capped by the Wallabies but is clearly in the frame for next year’s World Cup, if not this year’s Test series against England and the Rugby Championship.
The Roar expert Brett McKay asked Frost about the process at a Brumbies press conference on Friday.
“Yeah, a bit of back and forth but it’s good to get it all worked out in the end and I’m happy to be staying Australia.
“I’ve always wanted to play for the Wallabies – that was the goal. I had a few discussions and positive feedback and it worked out in the end.”
Frost said there were pros and cons to both paths but everyone had been supportive, “both clubs”.
He said coach Dan McKellar played an integral role.
“Dan was always a big supporter of me,” Frost said. ” We had many chats through the whole process, so yeah I’m appreciative of Dan and his support. The boys were always behind me whatever I did.”
A product of the Australian Rugby pathways, Frost was in the 2017 Australian Schoolboys side and was also a member of the 2019 Junior Wallabies that fell just short in the U20 World Championship Final against France in Argentina.
It was in the same tournament that the 206cm second rower went viral after outpacing a number of Ireland’s outside backs to score a remarkable 60-metre solo try.
Frost was selected in Dave Rennie’s wider Wallabies squads in both 2021 and 2022 and is one of 16 national talents who have re-committed this year to Australian Rugby until at least the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
“To know I’ll be here in Australian rugby with the Brumbies for another three years is awesome,” Frost said in a statement.
“My desire has always been to play for the Wallabies and to have success with the Brumbies and I’m grateful it’s worked out that way and now I can fully focus on working towards my goals here at home.
“The Brumbies is a special place and having spent some time around the Wallabies environment last year, I’m keen and focused on getting better every day and I’m stoked to be staying.”
Brumbies head coach, Dan McKellar added: “Having Nick stay in Australian rugby and with the Brumbies is fantastic.
“Nick’s a rare talent with his mobility and height, he has the right mindset around his areas to grow and improve and he’s a popular member of the group.
“Retaining him is significant for the Brumbies and he’ll be an important contributor for many years to come.”
Rennie gives positive Banks update
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie won’t hold Tom Banks’s impending move to Japan against him when it comes to selecting his team to face England in July.
The Brumbies fullback is expected to agree to an eye-watering offer reportedly worth $2.8 million over two years.
Unlikely to be preferred as one of three foreign-based players available to Rennie under the new selection policy, it means Banks would miss next year’s World Cup in France.
But that won’t factor into the debate as Perth’s Test opener against England on July 2 looms.
“We’ve got some decisions to make around ‘are we using all the games this year to gear up for a World Cup? Or are we trying to win Test matches?’,” Rennie told AAP.
“Well we certainly want to win now and grow from that, so form will dictate who we play at 15.”
Banks was controversially overlooked for the 2019 World Cup by Michael Cheika but was the first-choice custodian last season under Rennie until breaking him arm.
Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway and Kurtley Beale were used in the remaining Tests, while Jock Campbell and Jordan Petaia have emerged as options since then.
But none have banged the door down, while 93-Test talent Beale will be back at the Waratahs from his two-year stint with Racing 92 in France fresh off a long injury stint.
“Tom’s been excellent, it’s great to see Jordy play there, Jock’s played a bit too and Kurtley’s been injured for a long time but will be back in a few weeks,” Rennie said.
“There’s definitely some options there but all I’ll say (on Banks) is that he’s had an excellent season, missed a few weeks due to injury, but come back in really good form again.
“He’s quicker, worked harder on his game and we’re seeing the benefit of that and we’ll pick on form.”
It’s an approach that pleases former Wallabies captain Andrew Slack, who doesn’t want to see the important England series become a World Cup laboratory.
“I haven’t changed my mind in 30 years, in terms of that we can get overcommitted to the next World Cup,” he told AAP.
“It’s important for the team to win this year, you can get confidence out of it so if he’s the best choice, pick him now and someone else will fill in if he’s not here next year.
“To pick guys purely and simply on the basis of a World Cup, you’re playing with fire.
“Obviously you’re not going to play five blokes who all aren’t going to be there, but in certain positions, you pick your best.”
Is Eddie an energy sapper?
Eddie Jones is never far from the headlines and England great Austin Healey is the latest to take a pot shot at the Aussie head coach.
Healey, writing in The Telegraph, has questioned Jones’ focus after reports – denied by Jones and the club – emerged that he was in talks with French club Racing 92 about his next move after next year’s World Cup.
“One of the main things that annoyed me about playing for England was that Clive Woodward had a term for some people, ‘energy sappers’, someone who wasn’t fully focused, drawing energy from others,” Healey wrote.
“He would call me in and tell me to stop doing so much commercial work, that it was affecting my game – no more book deals, adverts. Then a few weeks later you would see Clive’s next book come out and think ‘hang on, we’re either all in this together or we’re not’.
“With Eddie, people know that he’s obsessed with coaching, but everyone wants to see that focus with England.
“Maybe don’t go over to Japan, or talk about joining Racing 92, or release another book or speak at dinners. Because that is a distraction. And to use Clive’s term, that is ‘energy sapping’.”
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