Wallabies ease eligibility rules
The Australian Rugby Union has announced a major change to its Test squad selection policy five months before the Rugby World Cup.
With immediate effect, overseas-based Australia internationals who have played more than 60 Tests for the Wallabies and held a professional ARU contract for at least seven years will be available to head coach Michael Cheika.
Previously, all overseas-based players were ineligible to be picked, and the move could now open the door to an international recall for players like Toulon stars Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.
Will Genia, Adam-Ashley Cooper and Quade Cooper, meanwhile, are all set to embark on post-World Cup club careers in France, while lock and former Wallabies skipper James Horwill has signed for Harlequins.
Genia, Cooper and Horwill are all close to 60 caps, but will now still be in Wallabies reckoning once they hit that figure, along with cap centurion Ashley-Cooper.
Announcing the move on Wednesday, Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver said: "Th is 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.
"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."
And Cheika added on the ARU's official website: " 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."