Veteran Test prop Ben Alexander says the Wallabies and Brumbies need to keep a player of teammate Ben Mowen’s calibre in their ranks.
Having only made his Test debut this season – and already captained the Wallabies – loose forward Mowen is reportedly considering his playing future with a move offshore an option because of a pay dispute with the Australian Rugby Union.
Mowen, who has started all eight Tests this year, didn’t want to speak to the media about his contract situation at the Wallabies camp in Argentina, with a Wallabies spokesman only saying that “negotiations are continuing”.
Australia can ill-afford to lose a player with such obvious leadership qualities that he was made captain in only his sixth Test in the absence of injured regular skipper James Horwill – leading them to the gutsy win over Argentina.
He also led the Brumbies to the Super Rugby final earlier this year.
Mowen isn’t receiving a top-up contract from the ARU despite being a regular starter in the team since making his debut against the British and Irish Lions in June and now a vice-captain.
The cash-strapped ARU is limiting top-ups and has introduced a policy where players only get the extra payment if they have played for more than two years with the Test team.
With the Wallabies struggling under new coach Ewen McKenzie and the shock departure last week of Brumbies mentor Jake White, Mowen’s value to both teams has sky-rocketed.
“You just need all the players you can get,” Alexander said of his national and Super Rugby teammate.
“Benny has done a great job on field speaking with referees, organising our line-out with Brumbies and Wallabies.
“He’s done a great job in tandem with the coaches in turning the Brumbies around and led us to within a whisker of winning the whole comp.
“It is is up to Benny to sort out what is the best decision for himself and his family and whatever that is, we will support him.”
Following White’s surprise departure, Wallabies legend Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher have both been promoted from assistant coaches to custodians, with one to be given the Brumbies top job permanently.
Alexander, who has 80 caps with the side, said he hadn’t been contacted by Brumbies chief executive Andrew Fagan for his opinion and wasn’t waiting to be.
“I shouldn’t expect we would be,” the prop said.
“We are the players, not the bosses.
“We will leave it up to the board … that’s their decision and we will back whoever they pick.”