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3 France-based Wallabies return for Britain tour in November

October 8, 2021 GMT
Australia's rugby coach Dave Rennie watches his players warm up ahead of the Rugby Championship test match between the Pumas and the Wallabies in Townsville, Australia, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
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Australia's rugby coach Dave Rennie watches his players warm up ahead of the Rugby Championship test match between the Pumas and the Wallabies in Townsville, Australia, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
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Australia's rugby coach Dave Rennie watches his players warm up ahead of the Rugby Championship test match between the Pumas and the Wallabies in Townsville, Australia, Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

SYDNEY (AP) — The France-based trio of Will Skelton, Rory Arnold and Tolu Latu will join Australia’s rugby squad for the team’s tour of Britain, among six overseas-based players in coach Dave Rennie’s 37-man squad named on Friday.

They will link up with the Australian squad in Britain ahead of tests against Scotland, England and Wales on consecutive weekends after a test match against Japan in Oita on Oct. 23.

Joining Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon, the three France-based players are the latest to benefit from the loosening of eligibility rules which previously only allowed overseas-based players with 60 caps or seven years of playing service in Australian rugby to be called up for test duty.

That rule was established ahead of the 2015 World Cup, enabling both Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell to return to test action for the Wallabies.

“There’s nothing based in concrete at this stage . . . the preference is still to pick from here, it’s important we promote from within,” Rennie said of the recent relaxation of selection criteria. “But some of these guys coming in, getting a taste of that environment and culture encourages them to come back and play here (once their overseas contracts expire). We’re trying to bring as many home as we can.”

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Australia had dropped to a career-low seventh in the world rankings this year as Rennie watched a steady stream of talent leave Super Rugby for lucrative deals in Europe, Japan and even the United States.

But Australia is coming off four consecutive wins in the Rugby Championship — two against world champion South Africa and two against Argentina — and has improved to No. 3 after South Africa and New Zealand in the world rankings.

Fit-again winger Filipo Daugunu (broken arm) and midfielder Izaia Perese (shoulder) will travel with the squad, Perese one of four uncapped players including Lalakai Foketi, Connal McInerney and Pone Fa’amausili.

The Oita test against Australia will be Japan’s first at home since hosting the 2019 World Cup.

The Wallabies will play Scotland on Nov. 7 at Murrayfield, England on Nov. 13 at Twickenham and Wales on Nov. 20 at Cardiff.

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Australia squad: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Angus Bell, Quade Cooper, Filipo Daugunu, Pone Fa’amausili, Folau Fainga’a, Lalakai Foketi, Jake Gordon, Reece Hodge, Michael Hooper (captain), Len Ikitau, Feleti Kaitu’u, Andrew Kellaway, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tolu Latu, Rob Leota, Tate McDermott, Connal McInerney, Sean McMahon, James O’Connor, Hunter Paisami, Izaia Perese, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, Tom Robertson, Izack Rodda, Pete Samu, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Darcy Swain, Lachlan Swinton, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Tom Wright.

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