Incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie says he would be open to picking players from outside Australia if they were playing in Super Rugby.
The format of Super Rugby moving forward is under debate, both in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and the wider discontent with the current competition structure.
Rennie, who is still based in New Zealand until later in the year, says rugby’s shutdown has given him ample of time to think about Rugby Australia’s Giteau Law and the potential tweaks he would like to make to this.
The law allows those playing overseas with 60 or more Test caps and seven years’ service to Australian rugby to play for the Wallabies – an easing of the policy that allowed Matt Giteau to play in the 2015 World Cup.
Rennie is advocating for a fresh tweak, rather than a complete teardown that he believes would damage the domestic product by enabling the country’s best players to ‘chase the big money knowing they can still play for their country’.
While Rennie has been vocal in his desire to have his Test players playing locally rather than overseas, he said it would be logical to allow Aussies playing in non-Australian Super Rugby teams to be picked for the national side. He entertained the prospect of including Japanese teams alongside Australian and New Zealand outfits in a revamped Super Rugby competition next year, from which any Australian could play and still be picked for the Wallabies.
‘My view is if we had a Wallaby playing for the Blues, we get to see him playing against the best Aussies and from a selection point of view, that makes sense that you’d be able to do that,’ he said.
‘I’m not a big fan of trying to pluck guys out of France; we’ve got no influence on how they train and how they prepare. Having been up there the last three years, I’ve got a pretty good idea about how a lot of those French clubs train and so on.
‘Best-case scenario is we have them here, helping our young kids develop, good players around them and helping our Super Rugby guys around. My feeling is that the ideal scenario is that we’re picking from within.
‘If we do like South Africa did at the World Cup and you allow all your players to go overseas and you can pick anywhere in the world, clearly you end up with a pretty good side in a World Cup year but it’s going to encourage a lot players to leave Australia and chase the big money knowing they could still play for their country, which I think will have a detrimental effect on the quality of our Super Rugby and the development of players within that.
‘Ideal scenario is we’re picking from within our competition, but that’s not to say that we don’t look at other ways to encouraging guys to come home as well.
‘Trying to lure some of those guys who have left recently, encourage them to come back and play Super Rugby and then be available for the Wallabies is important. Developing that is crucial over the next couple of years.
‘There’s so many good Australian players playing overseas: young men who are probably in their prime but not in our country. So, we’ve made a lot of phone calls to lots of individuals and just to get an idea of where they’re at, show a bit of love and hopefully deliver them back over time but some of that’s about creating relationship,’ he explained.
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