Thank heavens Chris Latham wrecked his knee playing touch and will be unable to pull on a boot for at least the first half of the year – it gives rugby fans a break from the utter tedium of reading yet more about the latest code/club/real estate agent/whatever Lote Tuqiri might be talking to.

Without this very serious injury to half of Australia’s total number of really first-class international backs, all we could look forward to would be a headline about Lote considering a career in the Twenty20 Tonk Ball. Or there’s always darts.

The only other distractions have been the inevitable lengthy pieces adding nothing to the sum of knowledge about what youngster Kurtley Beale might or might not achieve for the Waratahs and whatever Eddie Jones has been loose lipped about lately.

But already Latham’s ligaments have degenerated into a Jones v Connolly and ARU v QRU v RUPA b-tchathon.

The only bloke to come out of this with any style is the injured player himself. Latham is saying all the right things about being back better than ever in no time flat and no worries about the World Cup.

Well, maybe. At least it means he’ll be rested from the Super 14 competition – that’s what the ARU wants.

Latham’s loss is mainly a disaster for Queensland, already in trouble with a coach who has said he would prefer to be off coaching England. It’s going to be a long Super 14 season for the Reds.

But being the old Queenslander that I am, there actually could be some upside even in that. There has been a danger for the Queensland team to depend too much on Latham doing something special to keep them competitive. Just as sides often lift when down to 14 men on the paddock, the challenge is all ahead of the Reds.

As it remains for Australian rugby in general.

Given the mediocre performance in every facet of the game at the open level, it’s a sorry sight to see the present inability of the various unions to pull together instead of apart. Maybe a few heads need to be knocked as well as knees.

Peter Fray

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