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Wallaby great Campese wants 'stupid' Giteau Law scrapped immediately

By Chris Jones
Andrew Kellaway of the Wallabies looks on after losing The Bledisloe Cup (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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Wallaby legend David Campese wants to scrap the “stupid” Giteau Law that is stopping Australia from selecting overseas players such as powerhouse lock Will Skelton who is now based in France having become a European champion with Saracens.

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Skelton and fellow Wallabies Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu – also based in France – plus flanker Sean McMahon in Japan, cannot be picked while playing outside Australia because they have not won at least 60 caps. That rule is top of the Australian rugby agenda after the 57-22 thrashing by the All Blacks on Saturday which meant the Wallabies had failed to win the Bledisloe Cup for 19 successive years.

In the wake of that embarrassing loss, Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has made it clear the 60 cap rule is under review but Campese believes the time for debate is over and immediate action needs to be taken to allow Wallaby coaches to pick the best available players.

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With nearly 100 Australian players who have played at Super Rugby level playing professional rugby abroad, Campese wants all artificial barriers removed to help give what is a very young Wallaby team the opportunity to include experienced players like Skelton, who won his last cap in 2016, and Arnold with the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France on the horizon.

Campese, part of the Channel 9 and Stan sports commentary teams, told RugbyPass: “What has prompted this is the massive hiding we got against the All Blacks and of course it is a knee jerk reaction. If scrapping the rule helps us win another World Cup then get rid of it now and if the guys overseas are exceptional and their form is good enough then use them. Why wouldn’t you? It was a stupid rule anyway.

“When I went to play in Italy and then returned the Union told I had to play three games to qualify to play test rugby again and so I played for the Randwick fourths and first grade on the same day and they realised it was a waste of time!

“You have Will Skelton who is going to be a far better player because he is playing against international players week in week out in France and you cannot pick him at the moment because of the current rule.

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“The problem is that the system to wrong here and when we went professional that was the start of it all. In 2015 when Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell came back for the World Cup I tried to help by finding sponsors because they weren’t getting paid by their clubs in France. We need a set up in Australia that allows the older players to stay around and pass on their knowledge to the young guys – it is something we desperately need. We are in a mess because knowledge is not being put into these young players.

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Will Skelton and Ronan O’Gara (EPCR)

“The current Wallaby side is very young and will eventually be good but at the moment they don’t have the game understanding, management and knowledge. They are learning as they go along and we have another Kiwi coach in Dave Rennie. I don’t know why we continue doing this because we won two Rugby World Cups with Aussie coaches. We have an obsession with “ if you are not good enough to coach New Zealand come and coach Australia.” It’s bizarre.

Marinos was involved with the South African rugby union when they scrapped their own rules on overseas players which adds to the expectation that it will happen in Australia. “We do need to look into eligibility,” Marinos told the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday. “I’m not saying it’s going to be alpha and omega. But it will certainly bring a lot more experience and a lot more depth across the board.

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“When you look at the pool of talent from which we are selecting in comparison to our biggest rivals; be it New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, England – they have access and the ability to choose their very best players no matter where they’re playing.

“I’ve lived through this and I’ve seen this movie before, when I was in the director of rugby role in South Africa. We were faced with exactly the same scenario,” he added.

“I’m not saying what worked in South Africa is the recipe for here. But we have to look at the eligibility piece to make sure we have the best players available to play week in, week out.

“I’m not saying we have to open the gates completely. Not at all. But we have to be more specific in identifying where we need to bolster the team, so that when we put a team out on the field we have the best against the best.

“We need to be able to choose from as broad of a pool as possible. That’s all part of building a high-performance program.”

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Wallaby great Campese wants 'stupid' Giteau Law scrapped immediately

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