Boost for Rennie's Wallabies with tweak to policy on overseas-based players

Rugby Australia will allow the head coach to pick two players who don’t fulfil the ‘Giteau Law’ requirements.

RUGBY AUSTRALIA HAS announced a tweak to its policy around the Wallabies’ selection of overseas-based players for 2020.

The change will allow Wallabies coach Dave Rennie to select a maximum of two overseas-players who do not fulfil the ‘Giteau Law’ requirements.

Previously, the Wallabies could only select overseas-based players who had already reached the 60-cap mark and given seven years of services to Aussie rugby, but Rugby Australia’s amendment will allow Rennie more scope to strengthen his squad.

robbie-henshaw-with-samu-kerevi Photosport / Stuart Walmsley/INPHO Samu Kerevi will be available to the Wallabies again. Photosport / Stuart Walmsley/INPHO / Stuart Walmsley/INPHO

The tweak means players like Suntory Sungoliath centre Samu Kerevi and back row Sean McMahon, La Rochelle second row Will Skelton, Toulouse lock Rory Arnold, Stade Français hooker Tolu Latu, Lyon lock Izack Rodda, and NTT Shining Arcs openside Liam Gill could come back into the Wallabies mix.

Leinster’s Scott Fardy, who has 39 Wallabies caps, is now eligible again under this tweak.

It’s a big boost for new coach Rennie, who will be hoping to get off to a good start in the job in 2020. 

Rugby Australia CEO Rob Clarke said the move was “a prudent and measured step in response to the unprecedented impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Australian rugby.”

Rennie welcomed the tweak to the eligibility policy.

“First and foremost, it is crucial that we recognise those players who are currently making a daily contribution to rugby in Australia, and that will be reflected in the squad we name for this year’s Test season,” said Rennie.

“We now have the chance to select one or two players based overseas who don’t meet the current criteria and they’ll not only add some experience to our group but be able to guide our young players to help their development.

“We are also looking long-term though. We want to bring players back to play Super Rugby here in Australia, especially those who are passionate about playing for the Wallabies, get them excited about being in the environment again and this is a great way to encourage that.”

dave-rennie Tom O'Hanlon / INPHO Dave Rennie has joined the Wallabies after his time with Glasgow. Tom O'Hanlon / INPHO / INPHO

The so-called ‘Giteau Law’ came into effect before the 2015 World Cup and allowed then-Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika to bring experienced playmaker Matt Giteau and wing Drew Mitchell – who were playing in France with Toulon at the time – back into his squad due to both having more than 60 caps.

While it remains unclear if the 2020 Rugby Championship will go ahead this year – there is also potential for a series of Bledisloe Cup games against New Zealand – Rennie will bring a 46-man squad together.

“Dave will soon assemble his squad and they’re likely to remain in a ‘bubble’ for 10 weeks with no opportunity to call in replacements for injury due to the quarantined environment,” said Clarke.

“It will be a real test for those players selected and the Wallabies management team, but I know they are incredibly excited about the opportunity.

“We are being quite clear that this addition is for this year only but that we will continue to review the entire policy from time to time, as required.” 

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