Aussie coach Cheika will consider trio

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The Australian Rugby Union, which like New Zealand and England had previously considered only home-based players for selection, partially reversed their policy on Wednesday to bring the three back into contention for this year's World Cup.

“I'd be stupid if (I didn't consider them),” he told reporters on Friday.

“That's the whole idea to have more players to choose from, so of course I'm looking at them now and once I find their phone numbers I'm sure I'll be contacting them.”

Flyhalf Giteau, flanker Smith and winger Mitchell qualify for the exemption because they have won 60 caps and played for seven years for Australian Super Rugby sides.

Former Wallabies coach Bob Dwyer was among those who have said the threshold was too high, suggesting 40 caps might be a fairer criteria.

Cheika said that while the change was aimed at increasing the number of players available to him in the face of the flood of Wallabies heading abroad, the bar had been set deliberately high.

“That number in particular was given because 60 caps is not easy to get to and you must have really, really given to Australian rugby,” he added.

“You have probably earned your stripes ... We think that was a smart criteria.

“It wasn't just a clinical selection of that number, it was more a spiritual kind of thing, they've given and so we allow them some flexibility in that space.”

Cheika described 34-year-old Smith as an “awesome player to coach” and Giteau, 32, as “obviously a quality player” but reiterated most of his focus remained on home-based players.

“Everyone has got to be mindful too that if there's 100 units of thinking about this, 98 of those units have been dedicated to those players playing here,” he said.

Of the seven Wallabies going abroad at the end of the season, only outside back Adam Ashley-Cooper fulfils the 60-cap criteria, although the likes of Will Genia, Sekope Kepu and James Horwill and Wycliff Palu could reach it this year.

Cheika was asked whether he had any sympathy for those who might fall just short of the mark before they head overseas.

“No, not really,” he said. “They can stay and play in Australia.” – Reuters

Original source: Aussie coach Cheika will consider trio

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