Australia to pick overseas players

Date published: April 22 2015

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Matt Giteau's World Cup chances have received a major boost after Australia revised their policy on selecting overseas players.

Those internationals with at least 60 caps and who have played a minimum of seven seasons in Australia are now eligible for selection regardless of where they currently play.

The move is a drastic change from the previous policy which made all overseas players ineligible, and opens the door for a return for the likes of Giteau and Toulon teammate Drew Mitchell.

The only other player currently playing top flight rugby who becomes eligible is George Smith, however the likes of Adam Ashley-Cooper and departing Reds trio Will Genia, Quade Cooper and James Horwill could all extend their Wallaby careers, although the latter three are currently short of the 60-Test threshold.

"This is a pivotal moment for rugby in Australia, where for the first time in its professional history, the ARU will allow overseas-based players who have made a significant contribution to Australian rugby to become eligible for the Qantas Wallabies," said ARU chief executive Bill Pulver.

"It's a decision that recognises the changing dynamics of a global rugby market for professional players. Combined with our other recruitment and retention strategies, we feel this decision allows the ARU to assert more influence over player movement and contracting in Australia and abroad.

"Those players who satisfy the 60-game and seven-year threshold have already invested heavily and contributed considerably to Australian rugby over a long period of time.

"The policy also encourages those players who have not yet reached that point to commit exclusively to Australian rugby in the prime of their career. In this way, we believe the policy supports Super Rugby by encouraging our top players to remain in Australia for longer.

"It also means we can invest more money into our younger players in the long-term, while ensuring our most experienced players leaving for overseas can still contribute to the overall success of the code in Australia – on and off the field.

The other change to the policy sees players returning to Australia from overseas become immediately eligible on their return, provided they have made a two-year commitment to an Australia Super Rugby side.

"We believe having the option to select overseas-based players to represent the Qantas Wallabies, provided that they have made a commitment to return to Australian rugby, will encourage the repatriation of Australians currently playing in foreign competitions and increase the pool of talent available to Australian Super Rugby teams and the Qantas Wallabies," added Pulver.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika added: "It’s important to first and foremost recognise those players who are currently making a daily contribution to rugby in Australia, but at the same time not discount those elite-level and experienced Test players who have already invested so much into the code over a long period.

"From speaking with many of them, I know they still have a huge desire to represent Australia, and would do so to the very best of their abilities if ever called upon once again.

"In the end, we want the best players being rewarded for playing the majority of their career in Australia, and this is an important step to the future growth and success of the Wallabies."

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