Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest launches six-team Indo Pacific Rugby competition
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest insists he has buried the hatchet with Cameron Clyne, and he's urging the Australian Rugby Union chairman to endorse his new competition for the benefit of the game.
Forrest officially launched the Indo Pacific Rugby Championship (IPRC) on Wednesday.
But instead of it being a rebel competition, Forrest wants it to work hand-in-hand with the current rugby set-up in Australia.
Under Forrest's bold plans, the IPRC will run after the Super Rugby season, and during the third-tier National Rugby Championship.
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Pre-season will begin in July, with the 10-round competition to run between August and October next year.
The top four teams will play off in finals.
Forrest said the new competition will not only help Australia retain their most talented players, but also lure back those who are playing abroad.
He said the lucrative four-month contracts on offer would help ease the financial burden on the cash-strapped ARU, and boost the amount of players available for Wallabies selection.
But whether the competition is a success largely hinges on whether the ARU gives its endorsement.
If it does, then players who feature in the IPRC will still be eligible for Wallabies selection, and players will flock to it.
But if the ARU decides not to play ball, the IPRC will effectively be a rebel competition, and Australia's best players will likely shun it in favour of keeping their Wallabies dreams alive.
Forrest has held positive talks with the ARU, and he's confident the governing body will come to the party.
It's in stark contrast to a few weeks ago, when Forrest called on Clyne to resign after the decision to axe the Western Force from Super Rugby.
Forrest said the pair made peace before the Wallabies' clash with South Africa last week.
"There's been a fair bit of water under the bridge with Cameron and I," Forrest said.
"We had a frank and friendly discussion when he was here recently.
"We were cast as adversaries. We did not agree with the cancelling of this magnificent team [Western Force].
"In that adversarial form, we did have to go a little toe to toe.
"But now with the Western Force becoming an international team ... there should be nothing but collaboration on behalf of Australian rugby."
The inaugural season of the IPRC will feature six teams.
Forrest said about 20 countries had already expressed interest in participating.
Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Fiji, Malaysia, and Samoa are among the early favourites to participate.
Teams will recruit their own players but there will be a centralised player pool to help bolster the franchises that are based in weaker rugby areas.
The ARU confirmed it was in discussions with Forrest and his Minderoo team, but said it was too early to comment on specifics.
Star Wallaby Dane Haylett-Petty said he and his Force teammates would jump at the chance to play in the new competition if the ARU tick it off.
"That's a crucial step, being eligible to still play for the Wallabies," Haylett-Petty said.
"I know a lot of the boys will stick together and continue the journey we've started here at the Force."