Western Force coach Michael Foley says Australian rugby has been “caught with its pants down” in letting Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins leave for Japan.
Cummins chose not to speak to the media after his farewell game for the Force against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night.
Instead it was his soon to be ex-teammates he was most concerned about, advising he was off for a “few drinks with the boys” whilst leaving the dressing sheds with a slab of Crownies on his shoulder.
But his coach Foley had no qualms shouldering the Force’s share of the “Badgerisms”.
Cummins was released from his Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Force contracts one-year early on compassionate grounds to earn bigger bucks in Japan to provide for his sick family.
But Foley clearly believes the ARU could’ve reached a little deeper into their pockets to retain one of the game’s most recognisable faces.
“Australian rugby in my opinion got caught with its pants down letting him go to Japan,” Foley said after the 47-25 loss knocked his side out of finals contention.
“It’s something we’ve got to think really hard about.
“At a time where we’re talking about the commercial challenges of the game and we let a player like that go.
“And I don’t mean just an international player but a player with that profile and that appeal across demographics that very few other players touch.”
Foley was full of praise for the 15 Test winger’s character both on and off the field.
“He makes big tackles for us, he makes big runs for us, he’s wholehearted. He rips in,” he said.
“He’s fearless in the way he plays, he’s the only winger that’s ever come back from Test duty with a sore neck, I don’t know how that happened but the reality is he runs hard at the contact.
“Off the field he’s a character, he’s very different.
“He fishes on his day off. He adds a lot of colour to the team and we’ll miss him.”
Foley also indicated he would work hard to have Cummins loaned back to the Force next year – a la George Smith for the Brumbies in 2013.
“As a coach I’d really love him to come back. I’m encouraging Mark (Sinderberry) our CEO to make it happen because I think he’s excellent for us.”