By Benjamin Wickham
Canberra, March 9 — Richard Hardwick’s Super Rugby Pacific performance has made him a strong contender for a Rugby World Cup berth, albeit not with the Wallabies. The Melbourne flanker put in an exceptional effort in their recent game against the Hurricanes, scoring two tries and demonstrating impressive skills around the breakdown. This has earned him bragging rights over his teammate Monty Ioane, whom he is set to face in the group stages of the World Cup later this year. However, Ioane will be representing Italy, while Hardwick will play for his country of birth, Namibia.
Despite being previously capped twice by the Wallabies in 2017, Hardwick was informed by then-coach Dave Rennie last year that he was not part of his future plans. Hence, he turned to his birth country, where he lived before his family relocated to Western Australia. He earned his first cap for Namibia in 2022 and has no regrets about his decision. Hardwick believes he can do a lot of good in Namibian rugby and wants to bring his experience from Australian rugby and at an international level to develop the sport further.
For Hardwick, the move to the rugby minnows is not just about playing in the World Cup but also about giving back to his family and his father, who represented Namibia in several sports, including cricket. Hardwick’s Melbourne Rebels will face the NSW Waratahs in their next game on Friday. While the Waratahs boast an impressive back-row containing former Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper and new sensation Langi Gleeson, Hardwick is confident that his team can match their opponents’ skillset. He acknowledges the Waratahs’ dangerous back-row and stresses the importance of sticking together as a unit to nullify their threats. – Namibia Daily News