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RA to change Wallabies selection policy

Locks Will Skelton, Rory Arnold or Adam Coleman are now available to add depth to the Wallabies this year under a one-off change to Rugby Australia’s selection policy.

RA announced on Thursday that up to two overseas-based players who don’t meet the existing 60-cap and seven-year service threshold which was brought in during 2015 and dubbed the “Giteau Law” can be selected this year.

New coach Dave Rennie is set to announce his first Wallabies squad on Sunday, ahead of the upcoming Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup series.

There will be a 46-man squad for the November-December Rugby Championship, with no possibility for players to move in and out of a 10-week COVID-19 bubble before and during the four-nations tournament.

The change will ensure sufficient depth in key positions such as lock, where Australia has had a mass exodus of players with Skelton and co. heading that list.

Rugby Australia interim boss Rob Clarke said it was in response to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of players opting to take up lucrative contracts overseas.

“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,” Clarke said in a statement.

“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.”

Rennie said the change in policy allowed greater flexibility for Wallabies selectors while still prioritising the selection of players based in Australia.

Super Rugby clubs and RA board members will have to sign off on any overseas-based players who are proposed by selectors.

“First and foremost, it is crucial that we recognise those players who are currently making a daily contribution to Rugby in Australia, and that will be reflected in the squad we name for this year’s Test season,” Rennie said.

“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.”

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