Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is excited about the prospect of trophy-winning skyscraper Rory Arnold being available for the Bledisloe Cup but has all but ruled out involvement in July’s eToro France Series.
The 26-Test lock's stocks in Europe have never been higher after sharing in Toulouse’s Champions Cup triumph with twin Richie at Twickenham last weekend.
The twin peaks of the Toulouse second-row are revelling in life and rugby together and their season is not yet done after that 22-17 win over La Rochelle.
The same two clubs are clear at the top of the French Top 14 and may well duel again in the domestic final on June 25.
French stars like scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, Toulouse’s European Player of the Year, will do a quick turnaround for a tour of Australia.
The three eToro Tests pitting the Wallabies against France on July 7 (Sydney), July 13 (Melbourne) and July 17 (Brisbane) promise great entertainment.
Arnold’s towering 2.08m frame of toughness and skill would be a great asset but the former Brumbies forward will be scuttled by quarantine regulations not the Giteau Law for which Rennie can make calculated exceptions.
“It’s just about impossible for a Rory Arnold or a Will Skelton, for that matter, to be available in July because of time frames,” Rennie said.
“Rory and Will are potentially going to be in the French final in late June and quarantine would be significantly different to that of the French.
“The French team can come here and quarantine for two weeks while training fully.
“For an individual, you don’t have that luxury. You quarantine locked in a room for two weeks without real training so that makes it pretty hard to include most of the guys coming out of France.”
BRING THE FIGHT: Rebels bringing fight to Highlanders
BRAVE BLOSSOMS: Joseph named squad
SUPER RUGBY TT: Five things from Round Two
Melbourne Rebels-bound Matt Philip, a standout Wallaby starter at lock for six Tests last year, could even have his early return held up, not by his team’s top form but its lack of success.
His Pau side are tracking towards relegation play-offs while Western Force signing Izack Rodda’s eighth-placed Lyon are still right in the mix for a top six finals berth.
Rennie was not giving much away about where his leanings might be in terms of recruiting an overseas-based player for a position of need for the eToro Rugby Championship, starting in August.
When pressed on Arnold, he was clear: “It’s a real pity that Rory signed for France because he’s in his prime. He committed in 2018 even before his strong Rugby World Cup.
“Will Skelton has been colossal for La Rochelle and Saracens before that. He creates massive go-forward with his carries and he has a strong set-piece.
“Our job is to stay connected with our best Australians abroad and hopefully bring them back in time (for 2023 World Cup consideration).”