Sean McMahon has been one of the Wallabies best.
Sean McMahon has been one of the Wallabies best.

Wallaby McMahon not lost to World Cup

SEAN McMahon will be lost to Tokyo in April yet the desperate bid to reclaim the Wallabies backrower for the 2019 Rugby World Cup is suddenly positive because of tweaks to the Japanese season.

Another storming game in the 63-30 trouncing of Japan in Yokohama last Saturday only reinforced how valuable No.8 McMahon is now he has the consistency of eight consecutive Tests at the heart of the Wallabies pack.

Losing McMahon, 23, to Japan's Top League for two seasons in his prime seems crazy but contracts in rugby today are only a roadblock to the uncreative and those unwillingly to devote six months to bending them.

McMahon insisted his full focus is on the tour's remaining three Tests, starting with Wales in Cardiff early on Sunday morning (AEDT), before his Japanese stint and the question marks beyond.

"I haven't shut the door on anything and if the opportunity is there and the club I've signed with and Rugby Australia talk then we'll see what happens," said McMahon, whose expected club is George Smith's Suntory.

"I'm super keen to make the most of it (the next three Tests and Japan) and if I keep getting the opportunity to play in the gold I'll be taking it with both hands.

"It pops into my mind (that I won't be part of the World Cup) but I've made the decision that I've made and I'm mainly focusing on 2018 and nothing beyond that."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is so intent on finding a way to get McMahon back from Japan he said: "I'll have to take the wheels off the plane before he flies."

McMahon has signed for two seasons in Japan but the second has an option in his favour which means the 23-Test forward could play the 2019 Super Rugby season in Australia before a full-on Cup campaign.


Sean McMahon during the Captain's Run before the Japan clash.
Sean McMahon during the Captain's Run before the Japan clash.


The Japanese recently changed the timing of the next two Top League seasons so the Brave Blossoms have their best shot at preparation and success at the 2019 World Cup on home soil which is a huge bonus for Cheika.

The 2018-19 season has been shortened from 15 to just 10 games from September-December next year while the 2019-20 season has been delayed three months until a January-May slot in 2020 so there is no conflict with the 2019 World Cup.

It means McMahon could link with a Super Rugby club in 2019 to qualify for the World Cup without such a crowded schedule he'd be burnt out playing his full intensity style.

"There are rumours the Japanese season might be put on hold and doing a double-banger kind of thing," said McMahon, who is not yet across the Top League tweaks himself.

His five days in Yokohama only reinforced how much he is looking forward to his Japanese stint with wife Nia, who is expecting their first child, a boy, early next year.

"It has a great culture, I love the food, I love the people and playing in front of this crowd (43,000-plus) showed me how enthusiastic about rugby they are which will continue to build into the World Cup," McMahon said.

McMahon's direct rival in Cardiff is Welsh weapon Toby Faletau, the British and Irish Lions No. 8 who throws another 8kg into his renowned ball carries.

"The Welsh have a strong forward pack mentality so we are going to have to step up there and get very physical with our carries," McMahon said.

How well hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau drove into his 13 carries for 67m in just 52 minutes was outstanding against Japan while lock Rob Simmons racked up 14, double some of his hum-drum Test loads.