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Mortlock: Axing Giteau Law would set Wallabies back further

Stirling Mortlock

While some former Wallabies are plumping for greater selection of overseas-based players, ex-Test stars Ben Darwin and Stirling Mortlock feel it could see Australia slide further down the world rugby rankings.


Following a record Bledisloe Cup defeat by New Zealand, Rugby Australia is reportedly looking at lowering the existing 60-cap selection requirement for players outside the domestic competition.

Test greats such as Will Genia called the “Giteau Law” out of date and restrictive and said the Wallabies needed to be able to pick the best Australian players.

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Former World Cup prop Darwin has a business called Gain Line Analytics, which uses data analysis to prove that cohesion is the key to success.

He said it wasn’t rugby-specific, using the stability of the Melbourne Storm or Penrith, who have a strong core of juniors as examples.

“The understanding between the participants of a team is far more predictive of the outcome than the level of skill of the individuals of that team,” Darwin told AAP.

He said that while bringing overseas players back may work in the short-term, the ramifications for Wallabies could be grave.


The 28-Test prop said that by reducing the number of teams feeding into the Wallabies, there would be greater cohesion.

“The Welsh have a much more cohesive system than they did when we were successful and they did it by reducing the number of teams they were drawing from, from 12 domestic teams to four.

“When a singular club dominates the Wallabies we’ve won.”

He said that while it appears to work for South Africa, it was due to a large cohort of Springboks in the last World Cup coming from one team, the Stormers.

“You can only play that card once, you can’t do that again if you’ve got an overseas-based model.


“They’ve used some of their prior cohesion to help them be successful now but it’s a very short-term answer.

“We already don’t have cohesion with our domestic product and this would 100 per cent decimate that and set us back further.”

Former Test captain Mortlock backed Darwin’s theory and used his experience at the title-winning Brumbies career to being an inaugural Melbourne player, with players drawn from around the world, as an example.

“With a team without cohesion, occasionally you can play really well but consistency is extremely challenging,” said Mortlock, who played 80 Tests.

“I agree that highly cohesive teams create long-lasting success – in rugby union look at the Crusaders, who have big cohesion numbers.

“To bring back players open slather from overseas who aren’t forming combinations with the bulk of your squad, that’s going to undermine your cohesion numbers.

“Getting rid of the Giteau rule is illogical.”

Mortlock said prioritising the Wallabies, as Argentina did in effectively playing the national team in the Super Rugby competition, or a bigger focus on the under 20s program, could help with increasing shared experiences.


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Wonton 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

22 Go to comments
Nick 7 hours ago
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Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

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