Rugby Australia relaxes Wallabies selection rules


Sydney (AFP)

Rugby Australia Thursday amended its eligibility rules for the Wallabies, allowing up to two overseas-based players who do not meet the 60-cap criteria to pull on the national jersey.

But the change will only be for the remainder of 2020.

Rugby Australia interim chief Rob Clarke called it "a prudent and measured step" in response to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"(Coach) Dave (Rennie) will soon assemble his squad and they're likely to remain in a 'bubble' for 10 weeks with no opportunity to call in replacements for injury due to the quarantined environment," he said.

"We are being quite clear that this addition is for this year only but that we will continue to review the entire policy from time to time, as required."

Since 2015, only overseas-based players with 60 caps or more and seven years of service to Super Rugby in Australia can be considered for national selection.

The further relaxation is a boost for new coach Rennie, who is expected to announce his inaugural squad in the coming days. It opens the door to the likes of Samu Kerevi, Rory Arnold, Tolu Latu and Christian Lealiifano.

"We now have the chance to select one or two players based overseas who don't meet the current criteria and they'll not only add some experience to our group but be able to guide our young players to help their development," Rennie said.

"We are also looking long term though.

"We want to bring players back to play Super Rugby here in Australia, especially those who are passionate about playing for the Wallabies, get them excited about being in the environment again and this is a great way to encourage that."

Australia are due to host the All Blacks on October 10 and 17 with the Rugby Championship to follow, although nothing has yet been confirmed due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions.