The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has changed its eligibility rules to allow certain overseas-based players to represent the Wallabies.
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In a massive policy change, players who have held a professional contract with the ARU for seven years or more and earned more than 60 Wallabies caps will be now allowed to play overseas but still be eligible to play for Australia.
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said the move was in line with the changes occurring in the international rugby market.
“It’s a decision that recognises the changing dynamics of a global rugby market for professional players,” he said in an ARU statement.
“Combined with our other recruitment and retention strategies, we feel this decision allows the ARU to assert more influence over player movement and contracting in Australia and abroad.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said he was pleased with the decision as it allowed experienced players to come back into the fold at Test level.
“It’s important to first and foremost recognise those players who are currently making a daily contribution to Rugby in Australia, but at the same time not discount those elite-level and experienced Test players who have already invested so much into the code over a long period,” he said.
“From speaking with many of them, I know they still have a huge desire to represent Australia, and would do so to the very best of their abilities if ever called upon once again.
“In the end, we want the best players being rewarded for playing the majority of their career in Australia, and this is an important step to the future growth and success of the Wallabies.”
The announcement comes after the ARU introduced ‘flexible’ contracts which allow players to spend one year playing rugby overseas if they commit to a three-year or longer deal with the ARU.
Waratahs star Bernard Foley became the first player to sign such a deal, allowing him to take up a lucrative deal to play in Japan’s Top League.