Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt justifies Mosese Tuipulotu signing

South African insists he is committed to developing homegrown talent in the capital

Sean Everitt says he is committed to developing homegrown talent at Edinburgh but says a balance approach is needed. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Sean Everitt says he is committed to developing homegrown talent at Edinburgh but says a balance approach is needed. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

EDINBURGH head coach Sean Everitt has insisted that the recruitment of Mosese Tuipulotu should not be regarded as evidence of a lack of commitment to developing homegrown talent.

Confirmation this morning that the 23-year-old Australian born and raised brother of Sione Tuipulotu will join the capital club this summer – just 12 months after he turned down a move to Scotland so that he could sign a contract extension with the New South Wales Waratahs in order to chase his dream of playing for the Wallabies – was always going to raise a few eyebrows.

The fact that the centre has now decided that his future does, after all, belong in Scotland after managing just a single bench appearance for the Waratahs so far this Super Rugby season once again raises questions about whether Scottish Rugby’s overseas recruitment policy is the shrewd maximisation of performance potential from meagre playing resources, or the desperate papering over of cracks to avoid dealing with the underlying issue of a dysfunctional development pathway.


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While the truth lies somewhere in the middle, Everitt was naturally inclined to defend his employers’ approach. He pointed out that there are currently no centres in Edinburgh’s academy programme, while Glasgow Warriors have three – Kerr Yule, Johnny Ventisei and Ben Salmon – who could theoretically move east to get more game time, but cautioned against asking too much of those players too soon.

“I think it would be naive to think that under-20 players that play in their age group can compete at the highest level of the URC,” he reasoned. “If you look at the teams that played on the weekend, and you look at Leinster and the Sharks for instance, a player has to be of a certain level to be able to develop and perform. And that’s something that we sometimes get wrong.

“The top competitions aren’t there to develop. They need to develop and dominate in their age group to be able to be selected,” he added, before attempting to illustrate his point with an insight from his homeland.

“Coming through a system in South Africa where youngsters are pushed, for instance in the Currie Cup because there’s a lack of depth while the URC is on the go … it has hurt a couple of players because some of them aren’t emotionally mature enough to deal with issues of URC or Currie Cup for that matter.

“It’s about players earning their stripes to play in the URC. At Edinburgh at the moment we don’t have young centres in our academy that are showing that potential. So when you don’t have those type of players, you need to find players. It doesn’t matter whether the player was born in Scotland or not, he’s Scottish qualified.

“We have guys in South Africa that might not have been born there but have gone on to play for South Africa. Likewise in other countries. I don’t see that as an issue.”

 

 

Those who do see this as an issue in Scotland would argue that the number overseas developed players in our national squad far outweighs other tier one nations because we have become over reliant on easy fixes, meaning there is no internal pressure to improve the currently under-performing player pathway. Why invest time and money in a long-term plan to create the right environment for players to come through the system when there is always a cheaper and easier alternative sitting on a shelf in Australia, South Africa or New Zealand? Maybe there needs to be some short-term pain for the pro teams to create the impetus for long-term change?

Everitt’s position is that you can’t put the horse before the cart, and he argued that the push towards more ‘A’ games for the pro teams will help young Scottish-raised players more frequently make the step up to become core members of Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors’ senior squads.

“If players don’t play, are they ever going to get better? I think now we’ve created the opportunity for them to play as a group in ‘A’ teams it will make it easier for them to perform,” he said. “That’s a way of giving these youngsters exposure … I wouldn’t say in a low-pressure situation [but] where they’re able to go out and express their skills against better opposition.

“I believe you’ve got to develop your own players,” he elaborated. “But you’ve also got to make sure that your teams are competitive at the top, and strive towards that, because you don’t want to create a losing culture.

“The pro teams need to do well and the pro teams need to win for Scottish rugby, because if the pro teams are strong then Scotland rugby is strong.

“But we need to put a lot of emphasis on the junior structures. As a pro coach now, I came through that system, coaching junior age-groups at club, into the senior team at the club, then into the juniors at the Sharks, and I’ve coached at all levels at the Sharks.

“I’m pleased to say that a number of players came through our system to play for the Sharks, and to represent South Africa. And quite a lot of those players who have been on the field recently for the Sharks are born and bred Durbanites, so I see it no differently here.

“For us to bring players through our school system, into our club system, into the pro system, is beneficial to us at Edinburgh as these players carry a lot of social responsibility of the city and their families who are here, and at the same time it is good for Scottish Rugby that they are close to be able to give them the support they need.

“If you look at the youngsters that we have at the moment from, for example, that ‘A’ team game [against Heriot’s in the soon to be disbanded Super Series] on Saturday, the likes of Hector Patterson, Euan McVie, who was dominant in his carries, Freddy Douglas, who was outstanding with four turnovers and scoring a try, Robbie Deans coming off the bench, Paddy Harrison, Harry Morris, they are all homegrown talent in Scotland.

“You look at the likes of Cammy Scott who has really grown over the last eight months as a player, I think that bodes well for the future.

“And if you look at a guy who is a couple of years younger, Jack Brown, I get excited about a kid like that. He’s only 18 years old but mature beyond his years on the rugby field. Or you look at Ollie Blyth-Lafferty playing and winning in a Premiership Final when 18-years-old and playing at tight-head, so the players are here and it is up to us as coaches to be able to develop them better.

“It could take time. If you look back to 2020 and 2021 with those two years with Covid that we missed in the development of players through matches and quality training, and now we’re getting a group that is just below that coming through.

“I think each and every one of those players will have an opportunity to put their hand up for selection in the URC when the internationals are away,” he added. “If we lose Glen Young, Sam Skinner and Grant Gilchrist to the senior team then you are looking at young guys like Rob Carmichael and Euan McVie filling their boots alongside the likes of Jamie Hodgson and Marshall Sykes.

“So, there will be opportunities for them throughout the season. We could potentially lose three and maybe four loose forwards to the international team – Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury – which opens the door to a Freddy Douglas or Liam McConnell, which is great for Scottish rugby, but it is about getting the timing right and making sure they are physically developed to deal with the demands of the URC.”

 

 

The reality is that Tuipulotu was identified as a potential recruit by Scottish Rugby long before Everitt took up the reins at Edinburgh last July, but the coach said that he did not need convincing about the value the player can add to the capital squad.

“I felt we were in need of another young centre and it bodes well if we’re able to bring Mosese in as a partner for Matt Currie in the future, and at the same time James Lang, Chris Dean and Mark Bennett have done very well for the club and been good ambassadors for the club, so they’re not going to give up their position that easily and it’s going to be competitive which is good for everyone,” said Everitt.

“I don’t know Mosese that well but I spoke to Sione at the end of last year about his brother to see how he was doing. At that stage he had made a decision to stay in Australia. Obviously, he’s had a change of mind and we’re just very glad we’ve managed to get him while he’s available.

“We did have other options earlier on in this season with guys in other countries but with a guy like Mosese coming up as an SQ-qualified player already, it just makes sense that we assist in helping develop Scottish rugby.

“He’s going to have to work incredibly hard with the coaches so he can develop his game so he can compete for a starting place, but fortunately he’s going to have a whole pre-season for us.

“He is 23-years-old, he’s part of the Waratahs Super Rugby squad at the moment and we want to develop his game so that one day he can play for Scotland.

“He’s not quite where Sione is at the moment and we don’t want to compare him with his brother because they are two different types of player, but he is a big young fellow with good offload skills and he has the ability to get you across the gain-line. At times that’s something that’s been lacking for us.”


Scottish Rugby announces termination of Mark Dodson’s directorship

About David Barnes 3964 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

7 Comments

  1. If he’s a success at Edinburgh all the detractors will be lauding his performances.

    If he’s not then he will get eaten alive along with Everitt by those same people.

    Doesn’t matter what people do.

    I wish him well. I hope he makes the most of his time in an Edinburgh jersey. He sees opportunity in a very short career. I can’t criticise him for that. The Scotland pathway conversation is well worn out by everyone. Its not changing anytime soon.

    Be prepared for a frustrating next 10 years at least. You reap what you sow…

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    • Aw is people wanting Scottish rugby to be sustainable and successful a wee bit boring for you….will it b better’ if we all shut up do what we are told and let it all collapse so embra can win odd game against zebre n dragons….that £125 per year equates to major investment in youth players that has been yanked plus playing experience for them and opponents…..still the success this short term attitude has brought us fully worth it….that one trophy in 25 years is why we need to keep Scots out of pro rugby to keep the good times rolling …
      No reason to Inspire Scottish kids to play sport when folk from other countries can be be bought for 4 times the price n half the commitment….After all if the budget is limited it’s the agents and scouts abroad that should be priority not grassroots pfft when did anyone apart from France n Ireland do anything by putting grass roots at top of priority…..

      • Wipe that mince off your face lad.

        I’ll say it more plainly….THE PLAYER IS NOT AT FAULT.

        Direct your anger at your union and its officers. They have presided over the collapse of the Scottish game both financially and strategically for the last 25 years.

        I live and coach in Ireland. I know the benefits of a strategy of investment in pathway and game time outside the pro leagues. Our national side has been on the receiving end of it many a time in the last 20 years. Its a sliding door between Ireland and Scotland.

  2. These stories principally restart the argument about pathways being fit for purpose bla bla.

    The underlying rot debate that gets pushed to the side is the continuation of the nepotism and cronyism at the heart of Scottish rugby. We are to believe that the best available Scots qualified centre on the planet happens to be the semi-pro brother of a current granny rule player. Delve a little deeper and you’ll undoubtedly find that they share the same agent.

    Rugby is as bad as football now. The SRU, built on the ticket money supporters put into it, is feasted on like a dripping roast by a small in-crowd.

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  3. I wish the lad well but its a risk, one off the bench game for Warratahs when Aussie rugby is hardly on the front foot.. But lets give him time and hope he turns out as well as his brother. The most disturbing part of this article is that NO EDINBURGH CENTRES are in the academy…How many other positions have no-one in the academy? Please, please pay Rob Baxter a fortune and give him the head coach and player development role. Blair Kinghorn’s comments on not being pushed in Scotland were telling.

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    • It is not fundamentally a ‘pathways’ question as the real failure can largely be attributed to the ongoing dominance of public school privilege mentality. More needs to be done to address the rugby wilderness of industrial Scotland and this is underlined by the new kids of Stirling and Ayr who provide a glimmer of hope.

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