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'Eddie's biggest crime': Untold story of World Cup snub has infuriated Wallabies fans

By Ben Smith
Len Ikitau of the Wallabies (L) evades a tackle during The Rugby Championship match between the Australia Wallabies and South Africa Springboks at Allianz Stadium on September 03, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

It was thought that Brumbies and Wallabies centre Len Ikitau missed Rugby World Cup selection due to injury but the story has now come to light.

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Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper were high-profile omissions for the Wallabies but Ikitau was genuinely one of a handful of world class players available.

The 25-year-old in his athletic prime suffered a shoulder injury against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, which was the only concern.

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In an interview with Nathan Williamson from Rugby.com.au, the Wallabies centre revealed his timeline to return to play was in time for the start of the World Cup.

The hypocrisy of former coach Eddie Jones and how he left the dirty work up to the manager to inform him of non-selection left a bad taste for No 13.

“I was in contact with the doctor every couple and days and they had me on a conditioning program for a couple of weeks,” he explained to Rugby.com.au,

“They had this one-off Wallabies training if you were based in Brisbane. It was myself, Quade (Cooper), Taniela (Tupou) and the rest of the Brisbane boys

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“They trained for two days and then named the squad on the Friday and I saw Quade there and said ‘I think I’m a chance to be in the squad’.

“When they said they were announcing, they were going to call all the players the night before and it wasn’t until 9:30 pm when I thought ‘what the hell is going on’ and I get a message from ‘Webby’ (World Cup team manager Chris Webb) to get in touch with Eddie and he’ll let you know what your plans are.

“I was like ‘does that mean I’m not in the squad’ and he confirmed.”

Ikitau revealed that his non-selection was due to still being unable to play due to injury, but that reasoning didn’t add up with four other injured players taken to France.

Uncapped rookie fullback Max Jorgensen was one of the selections despite being injured and having never donned the Wallabies jersey before.

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“I was just disappointed at the comms I received,” Ikitau said.

“A good head coach would’ve called you and told you why you weren’t in the team but at the end of the day we got the manager doing the rounds.

“I was disappointed with that and the reasoning around why I wasn’t in the squad was because they didn’t want to take injured players and there was three or four guys injured guys in there.”

The reaction from Australian rugby media and fans alike has caused fury with the non-selection labelled “Eddie’s biggest crime”, “bewildering” for leaving out the “rock of the backline”.

Ikitau had established himself as the number one outside centre, starting 25 of his 29 Tests for the Wallabies since his debut in 2021 against France.

His form in his first year of international rugby propelled Ikitau into the conversation as “world’s best” with his stellar defence a hallmark of his play.

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Comments

4 Comments
P
Peter 178 days ago

Jones was a disgrace for the Wallabies. Treated better people than himself with contempt and arrogance and discarded better players for infantiles whims.

Eddie, You were once a really good coach. Not anymore though. You disgraced yourself in 2023 and wasted a bunch of people's money, time and careers

j
john 178 days ago

It was always puzzling but it was thought maybe there was some background reason Eddie wasn’t telling us.

Turns out is was just Eddie being an a………. to Australian rugby out of bitterness for previous slights and to make more room for hopeless Tah players like Donaldson.

I hope they have plenty of lemon trees in Japan.

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