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Toomua back in Wallabies mix after agreeing move home to Rebels

The 28-year-old playmaker will complete the upcoming season with Leicester Tigers first.

MATT TOOMUA COULD feature for the Wallabies in their clash with New Zealand later this month after agreeing to move home to Australia to join the Melbourne Rebels next year.

The 28-year-old playmaker will complete the upcoming 2018/19 season with his English club Leicester Tigers before shifting back to Australia.

Anthony Tuitavke tackles Matt To'omua Toomua will compete the upcoming season for Leicester, who face Ulster in the Champions Cup pool stage. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Toomua joined Leicester in 2016 – putting his Wallabies career on hold after 33 caps – but has now decided to return to Australia in 2019 as he seeks a place in Michael Cheika’s World Cup squad and looks forward to being with his family again.

Toomua’s decision to sign for the Rebels means he is immediately available for the Wallabies. The so-called ‘Giteau’s law’ ensures that Australian players based abroad need to have earned 60 Test caps to remain eligible for Wallabies selection, unless they have agreed to a move to a Super Rugby club for the following two years.

Toomua is therefore available to Cheika for the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship opener against the All Blacks on 18 August in Sydney, also the first meeting of this year’s Bledisloe Cup battle.

Before he joins the Rebels next year, Toomua is hoping to sign off at Leicester by helping them to a successful 2018/19 campaign.

“Leicester have been fantastic to me throughout my time here,” said Toomua. “The option to return to Australia was something that did exist within my contract, only if a chance to represent the Wallabies was there and, with a Rugby World Cup next year, was ultimately one I couldn’t turn down.

“As well as a chance to represent my country at a World Cup again, the return home also allows me to be closer to both my wife and family after nearly three years on the opposite side of the world.

“The Rebels are a club on the rise and I was really impressed after having a few conversations with [head coach] Dave Wessels about his plans for the future.

“I am still very much a Tigers player and, if anything, being able to have this all sorted is more positive than have a decision hanging over my head. I absolutely love Leicester, have become close friends with all of my teammates here and want to go out in a successful way.”

Australia’s Matt Toomua  29/11//2014 Toomua was part of the Wallabies squad that reached the 2015 World Cup. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Former Leinster boss Cheika expressed his pleasure at getting the deal across the line.

“I’m really excited that Matt has decided to return home,” said Cheika. “He wanted to come back to play rugby in Australia again and also to represent Australia again.

“It’s a massive boost to the squad and adds to the depth that we’ve built for the broader Wallabies squad in a key position.”

Meanwhile, Leicester have announced that England international centre Kyle Eastmond has joined the club, having been released by Wasps this summer.

“We have some very skilful and exciting players in our backline and Kyle will add to that quality,” said head coach Matt O’Connor, formerly of Leinster.

“He has an impressive skillset and we’re delighted we’ve been able to bring him into the squad here ahead of the new season.”

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Murray Kinsella

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