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Wallabies confirm return of foreign trio in end-of-year tour squad

By Alex McLeod

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The Wallabies have confirmed the return of three overseas-based stars in their end-of-year tour squad to Japan and the United Kingdom.

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As has been heavily reported, French-based forwards Will Skelton, Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu have all been included in Dave Rennie’s 37-man squad, ending their respective exiles from test rugby.

All three players had previously been ineligible for Wallabies selection under the Giteau Law, but the relaxation of Rugby Australia’s [RA’s] eligibility rules has enabled Rennie to bolster his tight five by the selection of that trio.

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Arnold and Latu haven’t played for the Wallabies since their dismal 2019 World Cup campaign, while Skelton, the giant second rower, hasn’t represented Australia since November 2016.

The selection of all three players continues the growing trend of picking offshore-based players to help improve Australia’s playing stocks in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup.

RA’s revamped eligibility rules allowed the likes of Suntory Sungoliath duo Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon, as well as Toulon midfielder Duncan Paia’aua, to feature in the Wallabies squad for the recently-completed Rugby Championship.

Kerevi, in particular, played a vital role in Australia’s second-place finish, as did Kintetsu Liners playmaker Quade Cooper, who returned to the national side after a four-year absence but was already eligible for Wallabies selection under the Giteau Law.

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Both players, as well as McMahon will continue their involvements in the Wallabies set-up after being named in the end-of-year tour squad.

The Wallabies have also named four uncapped players, three of whom – prop Pone Fa’amausili, midfielder Lalakai Foketi and hooker Connel McInerney – have all been involved with the national in some capacity since Rennie took over as head coach.

The other new player, however, is barnstorming midfielder Izaia Perese, who has been included after being robbed of a place in the squad earlier in the year due to a dislocated shoulder while playing for the Waratahs.

Perese would have otherwise been a shoe-in selection given his outstanding form in Super Rugby, but will now get the chance to prove his worth in the northern hemisphere.

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Rennie has also used this tour as a chance to re-call Reds wing Filipo Daugunu, who missed the Rugby Championship after breaking his arm during the July test series against France.

For all those who have been included in the end-of-year tour squad, there are plenty who were involved in the Rugby Championship squad but have missed out on the trip north.

Young pivot Noah Lolesio, prop Scott Sio, hookers Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Jordan Uelese, loose forwards Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight and Isi Naisarani, lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and injured duo Matt To’omua and Tom Banks headline that list.

Paia’aua, wing Andy Muirhead, hooker Lachlan Lonergan, halfback Ryan Lonergan and lock Nick Frost have also missed out on the squad.

The Wallabies will kick their end-of-year tour off against Japan in Oita on October 23 before going on to face Scotland in Edinburgh, England in London and Wales in Cardiff throughout November.

Wallabies squad for 2021 Spring Tour (test caps, club side and age)

Allan Alaalatoa (50, Brumbies, 27)
Rory Arnold (26, Stade Toulousain, 31)
Angus Bell (12, NSW Waratahs, 21)
Quade Cooper (74, Kintetsu Liners, 33)
Filipo Daugunu (6, Queensland Reds, 26)
Pone Fa’amausili* (uncapped, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Folau Fainga’a (21, Brumbies, 26)
Lalakai Foketi* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 26)
Jake Gordon (10, NSW Waratahs, 28)
Reece Hodge (53, Melbourne Rebels, 27)
Michael Hooper (c) (115, NSW Waratahs, 29)
Len Ikitau (9, Brumbies, 23)
Feleti Kaitu’u (3, Western Force, 26)
Andrew Kellaway (9, Melbourne Rebels, 25)
Samu Kerevi (38, Suntory Sungoliath, 28)
Marika Koroibete (42, Melbourne Rebels, 29)
Tolu Latu (19, Stade Francais, 28)
Rob Leota (2, Melbourne Rebels, 24)
Tate McDermott (11, Queensland Reds, 23)
Connal McInerney* (uncapped, Brumbies, 26)
Sean McMahon (27, Suntory Sungoliath, 27)
James O’Connor (57, Queensland Reds, 31)
Hunter Paisami (11, Queensland Reds, 23)
Izaia Perese* (uncapped, NSW Waratahs, 24)
Jordan Petaia (14, Queensland Reds, 21)
Matt Philip (19, Melbourne Rebels, 27)
Tom Robertson (26, Western Force, 26)
Izack Rodda (30, Western Force, 24)
Pete Samu (15, Brumbies, 29)
Will Skelton (18, Stade Rochelais, 29)
James Slipper (110, Brumbies, 32)
Darcy Swain (9, Brumbies, 24)
Lachlan Swinton (6, NSW Waratahs, 24)
Taniela Tupou (35, Queensland Reds, 25)
Rob Valetini (14, Brumbies, 23)
Nic White (43, Brumbies, 31)
Tom Wright (5, Brumbies, 24)

*denotes uncapped

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Wallabies confirm return of foreign trio in end-of-year tour squad

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