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Graham disappointed

Friday, June 27, 2014

SYDNEY - A looming tug-of-war over sevens rugby players for the Rio Olympics has been brought into sharp focus by Queensland's annoyance at losing Liam Gill to Commonwealth Games duty.

Frustrated Reds coach Richard Graham went as far as to label the Australian Rugby Union's approach to Gill to play in Glasgow next month as inappropriate.

The ARU have strongly defended their actions, but Graham's outburst highlights how player sharing between Super Rugby teams and the sevens program threatens to be a never-ending battlefield ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games.

General manager at the ARU, Andrew Fagan says clubs have known since before the start of the season that sides out of finals contention would be compelled to provide players for the Commonwealth Games.

That Gill is one of those head hunted should come as no surprise to the Reds, according to Fagan, who says the Wallaby star as well as Melbourne back-rower Sean McMahon have long been on the radar due to their sevens background.

Fagan says this fact was communicated regularly to the also-ran Reds and Rebels.

However, Graham claims the ARU first contacted Gill to sound him out before they notified the 12th-placed Reds of their plans.

He says he only discovered he'd be without his star flanker for the final two Super Rugby rounds when Gill told him on Monday.

"I would have thought that (better communication) would have made life a bit easier for us. And I probably would have thought it would have been easier for the ARU to come directly to us at the start," Graham said.

"Asking the player probably isn't appropriate but that's what has happened, and we've got through that and we'll move on."

The ARU said they had been keeping Reds chief executive Jim Carmichael how they communicated their interest in Gill and McMahon.

New national sevens coach Geraint John said on Wednesday he would make contact with all Australian Super Rugby coaches and introduce a professional culture where all parties work together.

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