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Wallabies lose two players for tour, including centre Samu Kerevi

By AAP
(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

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The Wallabies will complete their northern hemisphere tour with a Samu Kerevi-sized hole after he and fellow Japan-based talent Sean McMahon opted to withdraw and instead complete pre-season training for their club. The Wallabies will play Scotland, England and Wales next month in Tests that fall within the designated international window, meaning Rugby Australia could demand the pair be released.

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Neither was eligible to play for their country when signed by Japanese club giants Suntory Sungoliath in 2020 and 2018 respectively, the duo only returning to the Test fray this year when Rugby Australia loosened eligibility rules for the Rugby Championship.

Australian coach Dave Rennie had been confident the pair would feature but RA’s diplomatic approach with their employer has stalled ahead of a January 7 Top League season start.

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They are yet to be officially ruled out of the tour by Rugby Australia, but it’s understood after meetings that dragged late into Monday night that the pair opted to remain in Japan rather than join the squad as originally planned.

Backrower McMahon made just one bench cameo but Kerevi was key to the side’s resurgence, breaking the line and creating space for fellow Wallabies returnee Quade Cooper to control the contest in the No10 jersey. They won four straight Tests with Kerevi in the No12, jumping from seventh to third in the world rankings.

An ankle injury ruled him out of Saturday’s Test against Japan and his absence was felt in a narrow win, replacement Hunter Paisami unable to create the same go-forward. Rennie is set to welcome France-based trio Will Skelton, Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu into the squad this week.

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Versatile back Kurtley Beale could also come into the reckoning as cover at full-back, given the injury to Reece Hodge and Tom Banks in recent Tests has damaged their No15 stocks. Last-start wingers Andrew Kellaway and Jordan Petaia are both options to play full-back against Scotland, while hard-running centre Izaia Perese could also make his Test debut on November 7.

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