August 1, 2018 / 9:27 AM / 8 months ago

Rugby - Toomua announces Australia return to boost World Cup chances

(Reuters) - Matt Toomua has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Rugby Australia (RA) and Melbourne Rebels to return to Super Rugby next season and boost his chances of playing in the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

FILE PHOTO - Rugby Union - Premiership - Saracens vs Leicester Tigers - Allianz Park, London, Britain - February 25, 2018 Leicester Tigers' Matt Toomua converts his sides fourth try Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

The 28-year-old centre earned the most recent of his 33 test caps for the Wallabies during the 2016 Bledisloe Cup before moving to English Premiership side Leicester Tigers.

Australians who ply their trade abroad are not eligible for national team selection unless they have won 60 caps.

“The option to return to Australia was something that did exist within my contract, only if a chance to represent the Wallabies was there and, with a Rugby World Cup next year, was ultimately one I couldn’t turn down,” Toomua said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Rebels are a club on the rise and I was really impressed after having a few conversations with Dave (Wessels) about his plans for the future.”

Toomua is now eligible for Wallabies selection when the international window opens on Aug. 12, making him available for Australia’s Bledisloe Cup campaign against New Zealand, which starts on Aug. 18.

Australia head coach Michael Cheika welcomed the move which adds much-needed depth behind flyhalf Bernard Foley.

“I’m really excited that Matt has decided to return home. He wanted to come back to play rugby in Australia again...” Cheika said.

“It’s a massive boost to the squad and adds to the depth that we’ve built for the broader Wallabies squad in a key position.”

Toomua, who played for Super Rugby side Brumbies from 2008 to 2016, will fulfil his current contract at Leicester before joining the Rebels midway through the 2019 season.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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