SEAN ANSWERS FROM WALLABIES
FIRST Samu Kerevi, then Quade Cooper, and now Sean McMahon is taking the Wallabies back to the future.
The star backrower, who hasn’t played a Test in four years, is undergoing hotel quarantine and will join Wallabies camp in his home state of Queensland on Tuesday.
It is a huge boost to Australia for the remainder of The Rugby Championship and for the northern tour afterwards.
McMahon was thought to be lost to the Wallabies after signing a megarich contract with Japanese Top League club Suntory that goes through to March 2023, however with Covid causing havoc coach Dave Rennie has nabbed the 27-year-old for the remainder of 2021.
“We didn’t want to get to the stage we are selecting Wallabies based on geography, based on what state they live in because we can’t get guys out of other states,” Rennie said.
“Someone of Sean’s quality – I coached against him a few years back, he’s my style of player, aggressive and highly skilled, one of the best players playing in the Japanese competition for Suntory.
“He’s very disciplined and in good condition. It’s exciting news, he is a hell of a player.”
Rennie had been hampered by the Giteau Law in not being able to bring McMahon back sooner, given he has only played 26 Tests, but Rugby Australia has made additional allowances this year.
“We’ve been in contact with Sean for the last 18 months, trying to see if he was interested in regard to coming back and playing for the Wallabies again, and there’s always been interest,” Rennie said.
“But obviously he had a commitment overseas and it hadn’t eventuated until now. Covid has been a bit of a catalyst. We’re in a position where we’ve got a number of the states closed Feleti down Kaitu’u we can’t 16 Malcolm get a Marx number of players James out Slipper of, Sean 17 Ox was Nche available to come Taniela back Tupou and 18 quarantine Vincent Koch and be available Rob for Leota the remainder 19 Marco van of Staden the season. We Pete figure Samu while 20 Kwagga the numbers Smith at the moment Nic White are OK, 21 Jasper we’re Weisse only one or two Reece injuries Hodge away 22 Herschel from being Jantjies very thin in Jordan that position.” Petaia 23 Damian Willemse
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TAB South Africa $1.27, Australia $3.80 Naisarani has been given an early release to take up a contract in Japan, and Liam Wright has also been called into camp. Kerevi made his Test return last weekend against the All Blacks, the first time he’s worn Wallabies gold since the 2019 World Cup.
On Sunday night, Cooper returns to the No.10 jersey against world champions South Africa on the Gold Coast, having not played for Australia since June 24, 2017 against Italy.
“Everyone who has come in has been excellent,” Rennie said.
“You go back to James O’Connor who obviously is back playing fulltime here now and his input last year when he could play was outstanding, he’s made a lot of mistakes in his time and has been good enough to share all his learnings with the young fellas. Likewise, Quade has been an excellent addition to the group, Samu, they’re good men who are proud Australians and are desperate to wear the jersey again.”
Asked if the Giteau Law could be scrapped altogether by 2023 so he could pick any player from around the globe for the World Cup in France, Rennie replied: “I’m not certain, based on Covid there’s been a little bit of leniency around some of that which has been appreciated.
“We’re still determined to try to encourage guys to come back and commit to rugby here.”
Rennie said McMahon – who was holidaying in the United States with his family before the call-up – is unlikely to be considered for next weekend’s second match against the Springboks because he is still studying their game plan in his hotel room, which has been set up like a gym.
Sunday’s game will be the first match Australia has played against South Africa since they won the 2019 World Cup, given the Springboks withdrew from last year’s TRC due to Covid restrictions.
“They’re a massive team with a lot of experience, they play a simple game of footy very well,” said Rennie.
The Boks are masters of kicking the ball to opponents and daring them to risk attacking, applying great pressure in defence – as they did in their recent 2-1 series win over the British and Irish Lions.