Lock Arnold 'grateful' for Wallabies return
SPOTLIGHT: Australia lock Rory Arnold said he is “grateful” for the chance to return to the Test set-up as he joins up with the national squad on Monday ahead of three internationals this month
Arnold, 31, was recalled to Dave Rennie’s outfit after making his last Wallabies appearance at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The 2.08m-tall lock has been unable to feature for Rennie as he plays his club rugby for Toulouse and has less than 60 caps but the Kiwi has now relaxed the selection criteria.
“I’m just happy and grateful for the opportunity,” Arnold said after Sunday’s Top 14 loss at Racing 92.
“I came over to France thinking my Wallabies career had finished because I didn’t fit the criteria.
“I haven’t been a part of that environment for a couple of years now. They’ve been building nicely as a team, it will be good to link up with them,” the 26-time Test forward added.
Rennie will be without flyhalf Quade Cooper, centre Samu Kerevi as well as loose forward Sean McMahon for games against Scotland on Sunday, England on November 13 and Wales a week later.
The trio have chosen to start pre-season early with their Japanese franchises rather than represent the Wallabies.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing. Everyone has tough decisions to make and a few boys had to make them,” former Brumbies forward Arnold said.
“They wore the jersey proudly so hats off to them. Hopefully, we’ll see them back in the gold jersey soon,” he added.
Arnold, who plays alongside uncapped twin brother Richie at the record 21-time French champions, will compete with the likes of La Rochelle’s Will Skelton as well as Izack Rodda and Matt Philip for a starting berth at Murrayfield.
Skelton has also benefited from the rule change while Rodda was with Lyon last season and Philip helped keep Pau in the Top 14.
“They seem to like getting us over here in France,” Arnold said.
“It’s good to see Will doing well in France. Izack and Matt did well when they were here,” he added.
Another Australia exile returning to the Wallabies this November will be Kurtley Beale, who was yellow-carded in Sunday’s win over Arnold’s Toulouse.
With fullbacks Tom Banks and Reece Hodge injured, Rennie has re-called 92-time international Beale, who also last played for his country at the World Cup two years ago.
The former Waratahs utility back could come up against club teammate Finn Russell in Edinburgh.
“He’s a quality world-class player. On his day he’s dangerous,” 32-year-old Beale said.
“This is what rugby is all about. To represent your country, with and against some of your mates at the highest level it’s a special feeling.
“We’re all grateful to be a part of that. It’s going to be a great opportunity for all next week,” he added.