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'My mindset hasn't changed': Rennie wants home-based Wallabies

By Ben Smith
(Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

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The selection of European-based players Will Skelton, Tolu Latu and Rory Arnold in the Wallabies squad for the November end-of-year tour has added further confusion to the state of the Giteau-law eligibility for overseas based Australians.

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Originally requiring 60-Test caps, exemptions were made this year to allow for two players who didn’t met the threshold based overseas to be picked. With Covid restrictions further complicating matters with certain Wallaby players stuck in different states, more relaxations were made.

Although Quade Cooper satisfied the criteria under the Giteau law, the exemptions allowed for Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon to return during the Rugby Championship and now a handful of European stars will join them.

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Michael Cheika on life as the Wallabies coach
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Michael Cheika on life as the Wallabies coach

Head coach Dave Rennie explained that his thinking around the rule hasn’t changed and he still wants to pick Australian-based players, despite leaving young Reds players Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight and Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio at home for the European tour.

He hoped that the tase of top flight international rugby again would lure back some of the country’s top players back to Australia to bolster the Super Rugby teams.

“For want of a better word, the Giteau Law, there’s nothing based in concrete at this stage,” Rennie explained to reporters on Friday.

“Preference is still to pick from here. My mindset hasn’t changed around that. I think it’s important we’re promoting from within.

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“I think some of these guys coming in and getting a taste of the environment and the culture, hopefully that encourages them to come back and play here.

“Some of them have got existing contracts that will take them through to all of next year and some of them right through to the World Cup, but I guess we’re trying to bring as many home as we can to add to the quality of our Super teams to help from an experience point-of-view to help with all the young men coming through which will eventually benefit us.”

Rennie clarified just what had happened to the Giteau Law due to Covid, and that the relaxations offered will be reviewed following the end of the November tour which will see the Wallabies play Japan in Oita before heading to Europe to play Scotland, England and Wales.

“There’s been exceptions based on Covid,” he said.

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“Historically, there’s been the 60-plus [tests] rule. We talked about being able to bring a couple of guys in, and that was our plan to go with that.

“Once Covid restrictions had come in, we couldn’t get any players out of New South Wales, couldn’t get them out of Victoria.

“We had a couple of other players at home, and so we got an exemption to utilise some of those guys who were actually here in between seasons, so that’s not necessarily the plan going forward.

“They’ll be discussions we have post-Spring Tour.”

One of the overseas based stars who could join the squad is Kurtley Beale, who with 92-Test caps already satisfies the original Giteau law threshold. Rennie was coy about bringing back Beale, saying that they are ‘constantly talking’ with a host of players that are based offshore.

In terms of players that can cover fullback, Rennie floated Luke Morahan as an option as well as plenty of guys in the squad already who can cover the role.

“We’re constantly talking about players who are overseas and Luke Morahan is another guy who comes in,” he said.

“We’ve certainly spoken about everyone who’s over there. Obviously we’re still trying to promote from within. We think Hodgey can do a job for us there. We’ve got Andrew Kellaway, who’s played a little bit of 15, certainly trained a lot at 15 for us. W

“We’d like to see Jordy [Jordan Petaia] play a lot of 15 at Super level before considering him at test level. The plan is, from a Barbarians point-of-view, Jordy will stay and play 15 in that game.”

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'My mindset hasn't changed': Rennie wants home-based Wallabies

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