Rugby Australia chief executive Andy Marinos has conceded that the Wallabies may be forced to pick players based in Europe to join the Spring Tour squad.
RA and the Wallabies are forging on with plans to tour Europe at the end of the year, having already locked in Tests against Scotland, England and Wales on November 7, 14 and 21 respectively. There is still some hope of adding a Test against Ireland to make the tour the first grand slam trip since 2016.
Former Waratah Will Skelton, who now plays for Saracens, would certainly help the Wallabies in Europe.Credit:Getty
While quarantine will not be necessary when Dave Rennie’s squad arrive in Europe, Australia’s strict international borders leave the squad little choice but to spend 14 days in hard quarantine when they return.
The reality of players and staff being away from their families until mid-December when The Rugby Championship could also be played in a bubble means RA are preparing for some players to be unavailable for the tour.
While Rennie hopes to build the depth required to withstand withdrawals and European-based players would not have spent any time with the group for the first five months of the international season, Marinos hinted a tweak to the Giteau Law could be introduced to ensure the strongest possible squad faces the northern hemisphere nations.
“It’s an important from a rugby calendar point of view and a player point of view. We are fully cognisant of the fact that, coming back, we are going to have to step into two-week quarantine. Dave and the team are aware of that,” Marinos said.
“Those are conversations we need to have with the playing group to properly understand that. From a high-performance perspective, considering players that are domiciled in the UK, that’s part of a broader discussion we are going to be having within Rugby Australia.
“To be fair, the first six months of the year have been about setting up domestic structures and making sure we can deliver inbound [Tests] before we start to have all those further conversations around eligibility pieces and what we do when players can or can’t travel.”
While RA ponder the pros and cons of allowing players based abroad to be part of the Wallabies squad, Marinos is also working around the clock to ensure that the three-Test series against France runs smoothly.
The latest COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney has forced the first Test to be moved to Suncorp Stadium, and Marinos is not yet entertaining the thought of moving that match despite the handful of new cases in Queensland.
“At this stage, on the advice and the direction we’ve got, we will carry on with our plans as is. If that changes later, then we will obviously react to that,” Marinos said.
“With where we are now, Brisbane is probably our safest bet.
“We just saw a wonderful celebration of sport at Suncorp, a fantastic [Origin] game with full crowds.
“We will keep an eye on that and keep tuned into the health officials. I’ve always said a week in rugby is a long time and a week in COVID-induced rugby is a very long time. Things can change quickly, both in the positive and the negative.”
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