Wallabies to pick overseas-based players
ESPN Staff
April 22, 2015
Matt Giteau could now line up for the Wallabies at the World Cup © Getty Images

The Australian Rugby Union has announced Wallabies selectors will now be able to pick players based overseas in a radical change to its Test selection policy.

In an extraordinary move predicted by ESPN columnist Greg Growden just a few weeks ago, any player who has played more than 60 Tests and held a professional contract in Australia for a minimum of seven years will now be eligible for Wallabies selection, irrespective of where they are playing.

The move immediately makes the likes of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell eligible for this year's Rugby World Cup and will likely extend the Test careers of Europe bound Will Genia, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Sekope Kepu beyond this season.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said the policy amendment was an important strategic decision made in the best interests of the code.

"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," Pulver said via an ARU media release.

"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."

The provision also allows any player based overseas who makes a two-year commitment to a Super Rugby team to be eligible for the Wallabies upon their immediate return. The hope is this may lead to a repatriation of Australian players in the future, particularly the younger generation who are investigating overseas options much earlier in their professional rugby careers.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is relieved at the change of protocol, saying the selection amendment would ultimately lead to a stronger national side.

"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," Cheika said.

"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."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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