Rennie's law: The fall-out of Rodda saga
Disappointed by the nature of Izack Rodda’s Australian rugby exit, incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie plans to stop the player drain, show some love and tinker with the Giteau Law to best harness the talent at his disposal.
Former Glasgow and Chiefs coach Rennie is quarantining in his native New Zealand and isn’t likely to arrive in Australia until after Super Rugby AU’s July 3 restart.
Rugby’s shutdown has given him ample thinking time and he described the Giteau Law as “under discussion”.
The law allows those playing overseas with 60 or more Test caps and seven years of service to Australian rugby to play for the Wallabies, a loosening of the policy that allowed Matt Giteau to play in the 2015 World Cup.
Rennie is advocating for a fresh tweak – rather than a complete tear down that he believes would damage the domestic product by enabling the country’s best players to “chase the big money knowing they can still play for their country”.
Instead, Rennie entertained the prospect of including Japanese teams alongside Australian and New Zealand outfits in a revamped Super Rugby competition next year, from which any Australian could play and still be picked for the Wallabies.
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That could allow the likes of rampaging centre Samu Kerevi, who left the Queensland Reds for Japan’s Suntory last year, to return to the national fold.
“We’ve certainly got players playing in that [Japanese Top League] competition and whether that would make them eligible for selections [is worth considering] because you can compare apples with apples,” Rennie said.
“If we had a Wallaby playing for the Blues, for example, we get to see him playing against the best Aussies.
“From a selection point of view that makes sense. I’m not a big fan of trying to pluck guys out of France.”
Rennie was saddened by the recent messy exit of Wallabies lock Rodda, who along with Reds teammates Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas refused RA’s pay cut deal and had their contracts terminated.
Rodda last week signed a one-year deal to play in France and joined a mounting list of talent ineligible to play Tests.
But Rennie has remained close to the 23-year-old, stressing communication was key to coaxing him and others back in the future.
“The full picture probably hasn’t been painted. He’s gone and the whole situation was really messy and I think could’ve been handled a lot better,” he said.
“There are so many good Australian players playing overseas, young men in their prime but not in our country.
“We’ve made a lot of phone calls, shown a bit of love and can hopefully lure them back over time.”
Rennie, who hopes to meet former national coach Michael Cheika, wants that communication to extend to the boardroom after witnessing chief executive Raelene Castle’s demise during the rugby’s COVID-19 enforced hiatus.
“My assumption is that [negative] comments made in media, hopefully, it’s because those people care,” he said.
“So [we need] more conversations face to face, fewer individuals leaking stuff to media. If we work harder together, pull in the same direction, it’ll improve the brand and continue to develop the game.”