Giteau Law under the spotlight as Wallabies face player exodus
NEWS: Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle says the national body will review the overseas-player eligibility rule, a move which may yet allow blockbusting centre Samu Kerevi to continue playing for the Wallabies.
Known as the Giteau Law when introduced before the 2015 World Cup, the rule allows overseas-based players to represent the Wallabies if they have at least 60 Test caps and have played seven years professionally in Australia.
In recent times RA have allowed the likes of 2019 World Cup squad members Matt Toomua and Nic White to play for Australia again because they signed to return to local Super Rugby franchises the following year.
However, the Wallabies are facing further key losses next year with the likes of Japan-bound Kerevi (23 caps) and locks Adam Coleman (29 caps) and Rory Arnold (19 caps) heading to offshore clubs after the World Cup.
Castle said on Tuesday the eligibility rule had proved effective but she would discuss possible changes with RA Director of Rugby Scott Johnson and high performance manger Ben Whittaker.
“The Giteau rule has worked really well for us and if you think about the players we couldn’t select for the World Cup, there is probably only three or four you would look at and say they would have had a big crack at making the Wallabies for the World Cup,” said Castle on Tuesday.
However, she noted South Africa and even New Zealand were reviewing their stances on overseas-based players and said: “It would be irresponsible for us not to review it.”
The Wallabies selectors explored the possibility of choosing England-based giant lock Will Skelton in their current World Cup squad.
However, Skelton, who didn’t meet the 60-Test criteria, has now re-signed with English and European champions Saracens, with Castle confirming he wanted a deal to return to an Australian franchise in 2021, not 2020.
“He basically had to give up the last year of his Saracens contract, and sign with Rugby Australia and we would have had some flexibility like we did with Nic White and Matt Toomua, they could finish their seasons and come back and play the back few games of Super Rugby, that would have been within the bounds of the Giteau law,” Castle said.
“But he was looking to not come back until the following year and that wasn’t acceptable to us.”
She stressed the rule aimed at keeping leading players in Australia was good and there may end up being no change.
“The fundamental is we need our good players playing Super Rugby, so we need to make sure we look at it from that perspective
“Don’t give any open doors for opportunities for players to think ‘well I’m going to disappear off and not play Super Rugby and then I’m a dead cert to be selected for the World Cup
“So that the bit that we’re trying to balance.”