LONDON: Former Wallabies cult hero Nick Cummins wants to be “on the burst” for Australia at the World Cup next year after almost engineering a devastating blow for Australian rugby on Sunday morning.
Cummins showed the Wallabies what they were missing as he went on a second-half rampage for the Barbarians playing a crucial role in putting his team on the cusp of a major upset.
But the reason Cummins sacrificed his World Cup dreams to move to Japan just four months ago was in the crowd of almost 54,000 fans as the Honey Badger turned it on.
Cummins signed a lucrative deal in Japan to provide for his family – his dad Mark, who was at the game, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and two of his younger siblings have cystic fibrosis.
He is hoping to gain a temporary release from the Coca Cola West Red Sparks to return to the Western Force in a bid to secure a World Cup berth.
“I’m still on the burst … just have a yarn to the Japanese and get me on the burst, I’m in,” Cummins said.
“There was one point in the lineout where it was [the Wallabies] ball and I moved forward, I was looking at the jersey.
“That sort of feeling holds pretty deep with you and I would have loved to be back in the mix there. You can’t change what’s going to happen, I’ve signed for two years with the Japanese club and I’m a man of my word, I’ll go through with that.
“But if there’s a chance we can work something out, I’ll be stoked.”
Cummins scored a second-half try and then tore the Wallabies defence apart as the Barbarians rallied for an attempt to steal the result.
Cummins prefers not to talk about his family’s situation, but said having his dad in the crowd made his Barbarians experience even more special.
He also hopes to stay with the team to play against a Combined Services team at Bath on November 11.
“[My family] are happy for me anyway, either team I’m playing for. That’s what family is,” Cummins said.
Cummins said his management had “been creative” with the options they present to the Red Sparks to open up the chance to return to Australia.
“When you’re trying to translate, ‘I want to be in the mix and get up the guts’, it’s pretty difficult,” Cummins said.
Barbarians coach Sir John Kirwan thought Cummins would be a valuable asset to Australian rugby, but endorsed the ARU’s strict eligibility criteria which requires players to play Super Rugby to be available for Wallabies selection.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Cummins wouldn’t be considered for selection unless he returned to Australian rugby.
“I’m not sure what helps he needs, he’s looking after his own stuff,” Cheika said.
“He decided to go to Japan and that was a very supported decision. He can just as easily come back and play next year … I think it’s up to Nick. He’s showing he wants to play for Australia if he comes back and plays.
“He’s obviously a class player … if he ends up playing back in Australia he’ll be considered no doubt about it.”