MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Michael Cheika has backed the country’s ‘Giteau Law’ on overseas-based players’ eligibility for Wallabies selection, declaring there is no need to follow South Africa’s lead and scrap the 60-test cap requirement.
South Africa recently cancelled a rule that overseas-based players need 30 caps to be picked for the Springboks, saying they would offer better contracts for home-based players to try to prevent a talent drain to richer clubs in Europe and Japan.
Cheika was instrumental in bringing in the 60-test rule in 2015, which softened the country’s previous hard line that only players with domestic contracts could be eligible.
That allowed him to select utility back Matt Giteau for the 2015 World Cup in England and other overseas-based Wallabies.
“I think it is in the right spot,” Cheika said of the policy in a video posted on Wallabies social media.
“We have a lot of different mechanisms to encourage players to come back... The key is to have the best quality players playing their rugby in Australia, or in Super Rugby, so our young players, our youth and our club players, they all have that to aspire to.
“We have to get that tournament out there so more kids can see it.”
Cheika will soon be reporting to a new boss, with Director of Rugby Scott Johnson arriving in a few weeks after being appointed by Rugby Australia at the end of a dreadful 2018 when the Wallabies won only four of 13 tests.
Johnson will form one third of a new selection panel with Michael O’Connor and Cheika.
“It’s pretty straightforward stuff,” said Cheika of the new dynamic. I know it’s going to be another resource that we have going on in here.”
Cheika has been under fire for the past year and will need to engineer a big turnaround in the Wallabies’ performances to make them contenders for the World Cup in Japan.
He took a swipe at media critics, saying they needed to manufacture “drama” to “survive in their own world”.
“It’s a game you love and it doesn’t matter how many bullets people want to throw at me, I still love it,” Cheika said.
“That propensity to be dramatic, or over-dramatic, I am not really sure where that came from.”
Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly