Rugby Australia has announced that Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will be allowed to select two overseas-based players this season even if they do not qualify under the ‘Giteau Law’.
Overseas-based Australians were prevented from being selected for the national team until former Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika negotiated a policy change to allow him to select experienced internationals with over 60 Test caps like Matt Giteau for the 2015 World Cup.
However, there has been a further loosening of the policy to allow Rennie to select up to two players who previously were ineligible as they did not have enough Test caps. The loosening reflects the unprecedented challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is likely to result in the Wallabies being locked down in camp for a lengthy period for the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup.
‘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,’ RA interim chief executive Rob Clarke explained.
‘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.’
The players the selectors want to include in the squad under the new rule will have to be approved by the RA board after a wide consultation.
The likes of Will Skelton, Samu Kerevi, Richie Arnold, Liam Gill and Taqele Naiyaravoro could now come into the selection frame for the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship – if it progressed as planned.
Rennie will on Sunday announce his squad, which is expected to be inflated to a group of 46.
He said selections will still recognise those making daily contributions to Australian rugby, but overseas-based players will add extra experience to the group.
‘We are also looking long term, though,’ Rennie said. ‘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.’
Photo: Graham Denholm/Getty Images