"I really don't see the point in it."
Wales and New Zealand will lock horns on Friday morning: the winner takes home the bronze medal from the Rugby World Cup, the losers go home with even less.
Considering the ongoing discussion around player welfare in the game, the amount of minutes racked up by teams in Japan over the last 6 weeks and the sheer ignominy of the spectacle itself, you could forgive the players for asking "what's the point?".
Speaking on The JOEpan Rugby Show this week, Jerry Flannery was pretty clear on where he stood on the fixture;
"I wouldn't be a fan of those, the third-fourth place playoff. I think, you know, there's a big thing about player welfare, globally now, in professional players are playing too many games. This is a game that's, to me, is unnecessary. I think once the All Blacks lost to England, once Wales lost to South Africa, just let them go home now, let the players get another week of rest. And then just let them get back in for their provinces, for their clubs and get back into that. This is, it's quite unnecessary in my opinion, it doesn't serve a huge purpose. No one ever really remembers these games. Obviously for the guys it's a chance to pull on an international jersey again but, you know... For a short turnaround, it's not even paying it respect when Wales go from playing on Sunday to now having to turnaround, such a short turnaround, and play the All Blacks."
Considering the tight turnarounds, and the expected few beers had on Saturday and Sunday evening respectively, a total of 16 changes have been made to the two starting fifteens of the beaten semi-finalists, even with a bronze medal on the line. While there are some positives to take from that, Fla reckons it doesn't all stack up;
"Flip it on the other way, if you didn't make the 23-man squad in one of those semi finals, and then you got to the third/fourth place playoff after the team has lost, and you still don't get a run, you'd be pretty disappointed. It's just that it's, I suppose it gives them an opportunity to blood some players like Hallam Amos playing at fullback, he's very exciting, Rieko Ioane hasn't had a huge amount of game time through this World Cup, maybe getting Jordie Barrett on the field as well would be a positive... but by and large I really don't see the point in it, because players are better off... that's their World Cup finished, let them go home, let them get a week's recovery, physically get themselves right and get back playing for their clubs and franchises."
On this week's episode of The JOEpan Rugby Show, Rob O'Hanrahan and Jerry Flannery look ahead to the Wales v New Zealand Bronze Final of the 2019 World Cup, and talk through the mental battle of losing a semi-final, as well as how players hurt the most out of anyone. WATCH below: