The recent Heineken Cup final saw some great performances across the park, but two players in particular have sparked much debate amongst rugby fans over the eligibility of players based abroad. Both Steffon Armitage and Matt Giteau gave world class performances in the Millenium Stadium, yet neither player will be picked for their national side due to them plying their trade outside of their home nations.
Here we have decided to pick an Exiled Australian team that would be good enough to compete at Test level to show rugby fans and supporters what they are missing in the Wallaby jersey.
1. Dan Palmer
The prop currently plies his trade at French side Grenoble after signing with the club last year. Before that Palmer turned out for the Waratahs for two years, only making 14 appearances before moving on to the ACT Brumbies for two years, making 32 appearances. At 25, time is still on his side to return home and add to his solitary Wallaby cap.
2. Huia Edmonds
32-year-old hooker Edmonds has just finished up his second season with Gloucester Rugby. A 9-year super rugby career saw Edmonds turn out for the Waratahs, Stormers, and Brumbies before his move to England. Edmonds earned the last of his 4 Australian caps in 2010.
3. Salesi Ma’afu
Ma’fu has earned 14 appearances for Australia and was selected in their 2011 World Cup Squad. He also played against Ireland and made his debut against Fiji, where he lined out against his brother Campese. The 31 year-old currently lines out for Northampton Saints but made Super Rugby appearances for the Brumbies and Western Force.
He made headlines last month for this attack on Tom Youngs:
4. Kane Douglas
Leinster-bound lock Kane Douglas has made 14 appearances for the Wallabies before being dropped from the squad last month. He made his debut against Argentina in 2012. Douglas’ club career has seen him make 69 appearances for the Waratahs, scoring 2 tries, in 4 years.
Douglas is the type of player that prefers to barrel players over, rather than attempt a sidestep and this type of play should endear him to the RDS faithful.
5. Sitaleki Timani
Partnering Douglas in our Exiled Wallaby side is 6”8’, Tongan-born Sitaleki Timani, who will join Montpellier in the Top 14 next season. His Super Rugby career has seen him turn out for Western Force and the Brumbies but most notably for the Waratahs, where he made 42 appearances.
The Wallabies will miss heavy hits like this one against South Africa:
6. Peter Kimlin
Grenoble Flanker Kimlin has made two appearances for the Wallabies, and at 28, he hopes to add more to his name after announcing his intention to return home.
The blindside has had an injury plagued career and had to take a year out with nerve damage in his shoulder. Wallaby’s coach Ewan McKenzie has declared his admiration for the man who made 77 appearances for the Brumbies.
7. George Smith
Rugby legend Smith is still only 33 and made 111 appearances for Australia in 13 years. He has just finished up a spell in Japan and will join Lyon OU in the Top 14 next season.
One of the highest profile names on our team is former Wallaby captain Mowen. The number-8 was fast tracked into the national set up and was then made captain less than five months after his debut. However, Mowen shocked Australian Rugby when he announced he would be joining Montpellier.
“I am probably the first [captain in this situation], but I’m also probably the first bloke to make his Test debut at 28 and retire at 29.”
9. Josh Valentine
Six-time capped Valentine currently plays with RC Narbonne in the Rugby Pro D2. Valentine turned out for Queensland Reds, Waratahs, Western Force and the Brumbies in his Super Rugby career before jetting off to France in 2011.
Here’s a video of Valentine receiving a ferocious double hit:
10. Brock James
James has just finished up his eighth season with Clermont, making 240 appearances and racking up 2228 points for the French giants. He has never made a senior appearance for the Wallabies, despite underage caps and at 32, and he is destined to never earn a cap for Australia.
Here’s a video of Sitiveni Sivivatu and James combining for a magical try:
11. Digby Ioane
Ioane has just completed his first season with Stade Francais in the Top 14. The 35-test winger is considered one of the premier outside backs in the world and was a huge loss to the Wallabies when he left Queensland Reds.
However, the talented 28-year old could yet make a return to his homeland.
12. Matt Giteau
Part of a star-studded Toulon side, 92-capped Giteau is still on top of his game. His performance in the Heineken Cup final has re-sparked the debate about the eligibility, or ineligibility, of Australian players who play in Europe or outside of Australia.
He originally left for France in 2011 after being a shock omission from the Wallabies World Cup squad and they’ve missed him ever since.
Giteau led Toulon to back-to-back Heineken Cup titles and was also an integral part of their Top 14 success.
13. Berrick Barnes
Barnes is currently with Japanese side Panasonic Wild Knights and is undecided as to whether or not he will return to Australia in time for the World Cup. Barnes has 51 test caps to his name, and he featured prominently in the 2011 World Cup.
As things stand, Barnes cannot and will not feature in any test match for Australia until an announcement is made on his future.
14. Drew Mitchell
Another member of Toulon’s star-studded Heineken Cup-winning team, Mitchell has just completed his first of two years in France.
His Super Rugby career has seen him line out for Queensland Reds, Western Force and Waratahs, racking up 112 appearances and 175 points. He has earned 63 caps for the Wallabies, racking up 150 points since his debut in 2005.
The man only scores exciting tries:
15. James O’Connor
O’Connor is set to join compatriots Mitchell and Barnes at Toulon next season after completing his first season with London Irish.
The 23-year old already had 44 Wallaby caps before his axing from the side last year. He seems intent, however, in returning Down Under once his one-year Toulon deal expires, but the Australian Super Rugby clubs seem reluctant to take on the talented back due to his off-field controversies.
Did we forget anyone? Would this team win the World Cup? Let us know in the comments below.
Chris Jordan, Pundit Arena.
Read More About: Australia, australian exiles, australian rugby, ben mowen, berrick barnes, dan palmer, digby ioane, drew mitchell, george smith, huia edmonds, james o'connor, josh valentine, kane douglas, matt giteau, peter kimlin, salesi ma'afu, sitaleki timani, Top Story