Mitchell homecoming a simple decision

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Drew Mitchell thought his Wallabies return would be a one-time fling, with last year's World Cup providing his Test swansong.

That all changed when Michael Cheika visited in March, talking to all the Europe-based players about resuming Wallabies duties and it wasn't hard to sway Mitchell.

Mitchell brings some light-heartedness to the group. Photo: Getty Images“In all honesty, I thought I was only going to do it through the World Cup,” he said.

“Cheik came to France and spoke to all the boys individually and said, ‘if I were to call on you, would you want to come back?’

“I told him I thought it would just be the World Cup but I enjoyed the feel around the group and the direction we were heading, so I’d definitely be keen (to come back again).

“Once you establish that then it’s a matter of going forward with all the complexities with the decision and the move.”

While the desire is easy, the discussions that come with it are not so straightforward, particularly for Mitchell and Toulon teammate, Matt Giteau, both of whom are sacrificing large chunks of their salary to play for the Wallabies again.

MItchell has been watching on at training, recovering from a groin injury. Photo: ARU MediaThe winger has been back in Australia for weeks, the first of the overseas-based Wallabies to arrive home, to complete rehab for a groin injury that has kept him out for nearly three months.

The lengthy layoff means Mitchell is covered by a French government workplace injury insurance for the next six weeks.

When that runs out on August 15, he will likely have to have the conversations Giteau has been in the middle of in recent days, though he expects the Wallabies and Toulon to come to terms.

“Their allowance is just for the rehab, so they’re expecting me back after that point,” he said.

“It what’s happening with Matt anything to go by, it’s won’t probably be the quickest discussion, hopefully we go in there and everyone comes in with an open mind about what we’re all trying to achieve."

Drew Mitchell in action against New Zealand. Photo: Getty ImagesMitchell is one of four overseas-based players returning for the Rugby Championship, part of a quartet that has been plenty of hope pinned on it, after with the Wallabies' 3-0 England series loss and a dismal Super Rugby season, but Mitchell said things were not as dire as they seemed..

“I think the boys have been unfairly copping it a bit with the Super Rugby campaigns - on a surface level it’s easy to cast judgement but I think if you look at it, understand the game a little bit more, you’re not jumping to rash conclusions.

“That’s the good thing about rugby, you come out now and it’s a new campaign, you perform well and everyone will be patting us on the back.

“It’s just about staying focused and having belief in each other when we get out there.”

As for Super Rugby dominance bleeding into the Test arena, Mitchell said there was little comparison.

“There’s no denying New Zealand sides have been playing well, their offloading, their skills that type of thing, it’s pretty nice to watch,” he said.

“At the same time it’s a different scenario when you get into the Test arena.

“It’s great to get the confidence but I think we’ve even heard some of the All Blacks say that the form of Super Rugby teams might be seen to be a good or bad thing depending on who we talk about.

“It’s a different jersey.”

Mitchell hopes to be back in the selection frame for the first Bledisloe Test on August 20, as he works his way back to full fitness.