Giteau dilemma just the start

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Matt Giteau is far from the only international-based player causing headaches for the Wallabies, as a 36-man train-on squad was announced on Friday.

Giteau was released by Toulon, though he and Toulon and Wallabies teammate Drew Mitchell are likely to be sacrificing salary to do so.

Mitchell is currently in Australia being paid by the French government as he is recovering from injury, but when his insurance time runs out in six weeks, the Wallabies will have a similar situation to Giteau's, though all parties expect that to be settled.

Other names not included in the list, though, are as telling of the international complications the Wallabies face.

Australian players are contracted until December 31 each year, needing to receive an early release to be allowed to head overseas for the European season.

Players who have served more than seven years in Super Rugby are generally granted a special dispensation to leave after the final Bledisloe in October.

The Panasonic Wild Knights have signed Taqele Naiyaravoro for the 2016-17 Japanese season. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyReds duo Liam Gill and Greg Holmes are both heading overseas, while winger Taqele Naiyaravoro has also been called up for duty with his Japanese club and Cheika expressed his frustration that his hand was forced.

“The Toulon owner didn’t know that Liam Gill was in a contract until December 31, so the players are in difficult situations,” he said.

“In these instances each year I didn’t want to let them (go) but they’re in difficult situations with agents promising certain things they can’t deliver.

“Guys make life plans, spouses that get jobs and get sorted out with the presumption you’re going to get an early release, off I’m not sure what premise.

“Every player will tell you their agents got it covered but in fact agent hasn’t got it covered because we’ve got to grant the early release.

“It’s difficult because in one hand you’re having a blue with Toulon and then you’re going to give them a free pass because you released Liam Gill. “

Liam GIll is one of the unlucky ones. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyWhile Cheika said players wouldn’t be forced to play if they didn’t want to, something needed to change.

“With the UK increasing its salary cap, it’s going up towards 10 million and the French cap not really being monitored it’s just going to be a consistent challenge,” he said.

“The different possible outcomes - it is a big challenge now that have to be dealt with.

“The number one thing we can do (to attract guys) is the quality of what we give players when they’re here, the quality of physical and mental training, the quality of tournament and how we play the game.

“They’re things we’re really passionate in investing, bear fruit for us further down the track.”

Cheika admitted he wasn’t sure whether Toulon’s strong arming of its players was legal under regulation nine but stopped short of calling on World Rugby to move on the European clubs.

“I’m no politician, I’m not going to dip into that argument,” he said.

“Our objective is to have the most number of players to compete for positions - guys that want to play.

‘The running of the game is someone else's business.

If the internationals play then the international games are going to be better, but that’s a ball for someone else to run with.”

Kurtley Beale, Joe Tomane and Rory Arnold were all left out of the squad due to injury, while Christian Lealiifano and Sam Carter were among those omitted, with the 36-man group to be whittled down next week.

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