Wallabies win Giteau arm-wrestle with Toulon

Fri, 29 Jul 2016 09:26

NEWS: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika on Friday included Matt Giteau in his train-on squad for next month's Rugby Championship, against the wishes of his French club Toulon.

The status of the 102-capped Giteau has been in doubt because of his commitments to Toulon, whose owner Mourad Boudjellal has in the past threatened to refuse to pay players if they leave on international duty.

Despite World Rugby regulation nine - which requires clubs to release players to their countries during set international windows - Boudjellal had threatened to again dock Giteau's pay, as he did during the World Cup last year.

Wallaby wing and Toulon teammate Drew Mitchell told rugby.com.au there was always going to be complications with negotiations, given the pair signed before the change in Australia's eligibility regulations.

"Because Matt and I went over there when it wasn't possible [to play for the Wallabies if you were based overseas], we agreed in our contract that we wouldn't play international footy - our owner was under the understanding that we'd be available through the regulation nine [international] windows," Mitchell told the Wallabies' website.

Cheika confirmed Giteau was prepared to pay a hefty financial price and would be home in time to train with the Test side.

Giteau was named in the 36-man training squad - along with three other overseas-based backs Will Genia, Drew Mitchell and Adam Ashley-Cooper - plus Quade Cooper, who recently returned from Toulon.

"All of our eligible European-based players expressed a desire to play for the Wallabies during the Rugby Championship and that experience is invaluable," Cheika said.

"We have a very clear purpose in this team and we are prepared to work very hard to respect that purpose."

The squad contains four uncapped players, including NSW Waratahs prop Tom Robertson and Melbourne Rebels forward Lopeti Timani.

"We have had a great week with the players in our initial training squad and they've enjoyed working hard together," Cheika said.

"Next week's training squad will include selected players from the ACT Brumbies and we will start to look closely at the final 33 in preparation for the camp."

Waratahs prop Tom Robertson has been rewarded for his Super Rugby form with inclusion in the squad.

Meanwhile Lopeti Timani comes into the fold in search of his first cap.

The squad set to be trimmed in the coming weeks.

The Wallabies begin their defence of The Rugby Championship against New Zealand in Sydney on August 20.

Australia squad: Allan Alaalatoa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Adam Coleman, Quade Cooper, Kane Douglas, Scott Fardy, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, Matt Giteau, James Hanson, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper, Rob Horne, Sekope Kepu, Samu Kerevi, Tevita Kuridrani, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Drew Mitchell, Luke Morahan, Stephen Moore (captain), Dean Mumm, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Toby Smith, Lopeti Timani, Matt Toomua.

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