Rugby Australia to review Test restrictions on overseas players

Sydney (AFP) –


Rugby Australia is set to review rules barring most overseas-based players from representing the Wallabies, officials said, as they seek to rebuild the team after a disappointing World Cup.

Under the so-called "Giteau's Law", introduced in 2015, foreign-based players can only represent Australia if they have at least 60 Test caps.

That means the likes of star centre Samu Kerevi, locks Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold, and hooker Tolu Latu are no longer eligible to wear the Wallabies jersey after accepting lucrative contracts abroad in the wake of the Japan World Cup.

The talent exodus is a problem as the Wallabies, who were knocked out of the World Cup by England in the quarter-finals, look to bounce back under newly appointed coach Dave Rennie.

But a change to the law is also controversial, as it would also be likely to weaken Australia's Super Rugby sides.

Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said the law would be part of a wide-ranging review currently being conducted into the Wallabies disappointing year.

"That will come off the back of the outputs of the review, there's no rush for us to have a look at that," she said Wednesday, adding that it would take into consideration what other countries were doing.

New Zealand has a similar policy to Australia's, but South Africa scrapped Test selection restrictions earlier this year and went on to win the World Cup.

Australia's director of rugby Scott Johnson, who previously worked in Scotland where overseas-based players are eligible for Tests, said the Springboks had showed it worked for them.

"Is it right for us? That's something we'll have to look at," he said.

"The reality is, though, we've got a younger group of players that is going to come through that is going to help us change the landscape of Australian rugby so for the large part I'd like them here."

Castle said it was a "complex" issue, with the Wallabies wanting their best players available but Super Rugby franchises also needing strong squads.

"Every rugby fan wants to see Super Rugby teams be successful, they want their heroes playing in their Super Rugby team," she said.

"So it's a bigger conversation than just Wallabies success, it's about making sure we've got the right players playing within our Super Rugby franchises as well."

The 2015 law was brought in to allow former coach Michael Cheika to select France-based Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell for the World Cup in England that year, where Australia reached the final.