Australia to consider changes to player eligibility criteria

Australia eligibility

Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has announced that he will consider changing the eligibility rules in regards to playing for the Wallabies.

Under the current rules, Australians can only play for their country if they play for one of the five domestic Super Rugby teams, or if they have over 60 caps and have spent seven seasons with an Australian team in the past.

This rule, called Giteau’s Law, was brought in by former Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika in 2015 to allow the likes of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell to play for Australia, despite both of them playing their club rugby with Toulon in France.

However, rugby chiefs in Australia are now considering further relaxing the rule according to Marinos in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Possible changes to Australia’s eligibility rules.

“When you look at the pool of talent from which we are selecting in comparison to our biggest rivals; be it New Zealand, be it South Africa, be it Argentina, be it England – they have access and the ability to choose their very best players no matter where they’re playing,” Marinos said.

“We do need to look into eligibility. I’m not saying it’s going to be alpha and omega. But it will certainly bring a lot more experience and a lot more depth across the board.

“I’ve lived through this and I’ve seen this movie before, when I was in the director of rugby role in South Africa. We were faced with exactly the same scenario.

“I’m not saying what worked in South Africa is the recipe for here. But we have to look at the eligibility piece to make sure we have the best players available to play week in, week out.”

Australia look to emulate South Africa’s success.

Marino’s comments come the day after the Wallabies were hammered by 35 points by the All Blacks on Saturday, as New Zealand scored a record 57 points against their nearest rivals.

South Africa relaxed their eligibility rules with the arrival of Rassie Erasmus in 2018 after a bleak few years, a move which helped transform the Springboks into world champions.

While Australia doesn’t lose as many high quality players to foreign clubs as South Africa does, the likes of Will Skelton and Samu Kerevi could make a significant impact to the Wallabies.

Picking overseas players will likely improve Australia’s performances on the international stage, but there are fears that their domestic game will suffer as players will feel less pressured to play club rugby at home.

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