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'Players will go in their droves': Dave Rennie shuts down quick fix for Australian exodus

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is adamant that opening up national selection to include overseas players is not the way forward for the embattled country.


Australia, like New Zealand and South Africa, has struggled in recent times to stop its best talent from head off-shore.

In the past year, the likes of recent Wallabies Matt Philip, Luke Jones, Izack Rodda, Henry Speight, Ned Hanigan, Rob Simmons and Kurtley Beale have left Australia to link up with foreign teams. Some of those players will be back in due course but many have been lost to Australia forever.

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In order for a player to be eligible for Wallabies selection, the general rule is they must be signed to an Australian Super Rugby team – though Rennie is allowed to pick up to two foreign-based players who have fewer than 60 tests to their name, and any number of foreign-based players who exceed that number of caps.

The former Chiefs coach is intent on selecting local players, however, and has concerns that loosening up the Wallabies eligibility criteria could lead to a “mass exodus” of players, as has been the case in South Africa.

“It’s the dangers of doing that and the effect it’ll have on our local game,” Rennie said earlier this week. “I honestly believe if we open the gates … that will have an effect on our game here on Super Rugby teams.

“It’s what happened in South Africa. They had a mass exodus of their top players. If we open the gates and pick wholesale then the lure of the Yen and the Euro [is huge] and the difference in money is phenomenal.


“Players will go in their droves because they can get three times the amount of money. It’d be difficult to keep people here.”

At the 2015 World Cup, 10 of the Springboks’ 32-man squad played for teams other than South Africa’s six Super Rugby teams.

Of the current 45-man training squad named in preparation for the upcoming British and Irish Lions series, a whopping 22 players are based outside of South Africa – a fate that could befall Australia if they follow the same pathway.


While Australia’s five Super Rugby teams have enjoyed a torrid time during Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, recording just two wins so far this year from 22 matches, there’s enough talent scattered throughout the sides to suggest that Rennie can still put together a top-level squad that can compete with the likes of the All Blacks, Springboks and Les Bleus – teams that the Wallabies will clash with multiple times throughout the 2021 test season.

On Sunday afternoon, Rennie will name his 38-man to take on the French in their upcoming tour of Australia and the Wallabies coach suggested that the vast majority of the team had already been settled on ahead of this weekend’s final round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.


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