Bob Dwyer wants overseas players free for Wallabies
ESPN Staff
January 9, 2014
Ben Mowen will leave Australia after the Super Rugby season

Bob Dwyer believes Ben Mowen's decision to quit Australian rugby at the end of the 2014 Super Rugby season "is another reason why the Australian Rugby Union should consider its determination not to choose players that are playing outside Australia".

Mowen confirmed at a press conference in Canberra on Thursday morning that he would leave Australia at the end of the Super Rugby, moving to Europe in order to spend more time with his wife and baby daughter. He had previously told Fairfax Media in an exclusive interview that "it's the hardest decision of my career and I flipped 100 different ways trying to figure out which way I was going to go, but being away for so long [with the Wallabies and the Brumbies], it was a bridge too far … the reality is it is time to put my family first and have quality time together".

Dwyer said that Mowen's decision to quit Australia for family reasons was "the first one of this magnitude in the professional era" but there were "numerous precedents in amateur days of players retiring for family reasons".

"You can be with your family and earn bigger money [in Europe]," Dwyer told Fox Sports News, but the Wallabies' Rugby World Cup 2011-winning coach did not think that Mowen had moved for money. "I don't know Ben Mowen personally at all, but looking at him from a distance I have the greatest respect for him. He seems exactly the right sort of person, exactly the right sort of role model we would want in our game, and I wouldn't suggest the decision is all about dollars, not at all. But it's quite clear that dollars may play some part."

"It's just another step in the direction that we'll have to take where we choose players, or we're able to choose players who are not playing in the local competition."

Dwyer noted that a number of Australia's Test rivals already choose players who are playing outside their borders, most notably South Africa, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Argentina. Springboks captain Jean de Villiers has publicly questioned the South African stance, however, while New Zealand and England do not select overseas-based players. England fly-half Toby Flood only this week saw his decision to move to Toulouse from Aviva Premiership powerhouse Leicester Tigers at the end of the European season rule him out of consideration for the Six Nations championship that kicks-off in February.

"It's just another step in the direction that we'll have to take where we choose players, or we're able to choose players who are not playing in the local competition," Dwyer said.

James O'Connor, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Digby Ioane and Sitaleki Timani are but five Wallabies currently unavailable for test selection, having chosen to play in Europe, although O'Connor's London Irish coach, Brian Smith, believes the utility back will return to Australia for the 2015 Super Rugby in order to make himself available for the Rugby World Cup in England.

Should the Australian Rugby Union relax its determination that players who do not play for Australian Super Rugby franchises are ineligible for Wallabies selection? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.

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