SYDNEY, Aug 4 (Reuters) - Utility back Matt Toomua is likely to make a surprise return to the Wallabies for the Rugby Championship after he was hurriedly rushed back into the national setup by coach Michael Cheika on Friday.
Toomua, who playes flylahf or inside centre, said earlier this week he was returning home to Australia next year to link with the Melbourne Rebels after his commitments with English club Leicester conclude.
The 28-year-old was a late inclusion by Cheika in his side’s warmup match against a Super Rugby selection in Sydney on Friday, in which Toomua played about 50 minutes at flyhalf.
“I had to make sure the contract was signed and the deal was done for him to come here and I just wanted to make sure that all that happened before I got anywhere with it,” Cheika said of Toomua’s late inclusion for the match.
“I called it last minute because I think it will be good for him to get some time in there especially if he’s going to be available for the first competitive match, that being the Bledisloe.”
Toomua’s likely inclusion in the Wallabies squad was only made possible by ‘Giteau’s law’, an exemption to Rugby Australia’s selection policy that was introduced ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Australia have traditionally restricted the selection of the Wallabies to those playing domestically, but adopted the exemption, named in reference to former utility back Matt Giteau, that allowed players contracted to overseas clubs to be picked.
Under the policy change, overseas players with at least seven seasons in Super Rugby and 60 Wallabies caps were available for the exemption.
The rule, however, does allow players who have signed for a Super Rugby club for the next two seasons to be considered, allowing Toomua to be eligible for the Rugby Championship despite having won just 33 Wallabies caps.
“We know what Matt Toomua can do, so I think he’s fine. Watching him at Leicester he’s been great,” Cheika added.
“It’s really good that he’s coming back to Australian rugby for sure.”
The Wallabies open the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks on Aug. 18 in Sydney, with the match doubling as the first game in the series for the Bledisloe Cup, which New Zealand have held since 2003. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)