Weapon, not a time bomb: White says Australian rugby should value players over 30

He recently signed a one-year contract extension, but Wallabies halfback Nic White has made it clear he is not even close to the end of his career, with eyes firmly set on playing for Australia against the British and Irish Lions in 2025.

White, who turned 32 last week, knocked back interest from Japan to for the 2023 season, which will culminate in the Rugby World Cup in France.

But the first-choice Wallabies halfback questioned the value placed by Rugby Australia on experienced players aged over 30 after White sought a three-year deal to reach the 2025 Lions tour, but was only offered one year.

In an interview with SEN last month, White said , who tried to convince the Rabbitohs to give him a two-year extension but was knocked back. The Broncos snapped Reynolds up on a three-year deal and the 31-year-old has since revived the Brisbane club.

I went into negotiations and it was a bit of a shock to everyone when I said my preference is to stay in Australia for another three, and we got down to one, White said.

The Lions is definitely one of the goals when I talk contracting. I feel like early 30s, especially in my position, is not old.

I look over to England see Danny Care absolutely lighting it up for Harlequins at the age of 35, and I see Richard Wigglesworth still running around at 38 or 39. But for some reason here in Australia you hit 30 and it’s like, ‘Well he is a ticking time bomb – when is he going to break? ’

I am in the peak condition of my career, and I have the data that backs that up. It is showing that I am getting better and better and better, and not just on the field.

White said players in high-possession, decision-making roles generally hit their peak in the second half of their career, when they’re able to apply all the hard-earned lessons of their career.

Early on in my career, I’ve made plenty of mistakes that I’ve learned from, White said.

And now I’m in a position where you try to tell younger guys, ‘This is what I’ve learned’. It’s a decision-making position where you go, ‘OK, I’ve tried that, like when we when come up against the Kiwis, I have tried a few different styles and I get it. But now I know this is the way that works’.

White missed the chance to play against the British and Irish Lions in 2013 due to a broken bone in a shoulder on the eve of the tour.

So it’s still an itch that I would love to scratch, he said.

White said he accepted a one-year offer from Rugby Australia to bed down a deal for next year’s World Cup and remove the potential distraction of a drawn-out negotiation. He said there is also a willingness on all sides to keep talking about further deals that will carry through to 2025.

Sources with knowledge of the situation say Rugby Australia are keen to keep White but given he is one of Australian rugby’s better earners, reduced budgets mean they have to apply more caution to signing long-term deals.

With the younger Tate McDermott and Jake Gordon pressing for the No. 9, White said he understands he won’t hold a starting role forever. But he believes there is an important role for experienced players to come on from the bench and close out tight Test matches.

There are finishers now and you want to bring on guys with experience, White said. You can’t play a nine for 80 minutes every game, they’ll break.

Again, I look at a guy like Richard Wigglesworth. I know, at some point down the line, my role will change three, four or five years. But I want to be around to be part of that. I want to be able to help where I can. And if eventually down the line, if I am playing the Lions as a finisher, you can help close out a game.

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