The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is still months in the future, but the conversation around who will represent for the Wallabies has been going on for quite some time and will only escalate as the tournaments draws near.
In 2015, players Nic White and Will Skelton were unable to pass muster, but both seem to have used the experience from four years ago to hone their games to the extent that both are under consideration this go.
Both have been playing their football in England and doing so quite competently.
So competently in fact, that Wallabies’ coach Michael Cheika felt it necessary to visit White and Skelton in England to explore the potential for bringing both players back and make themselves eligible for Japan.
In order to qualify, both men would have to sign a contract to play Super Rugby in 2020, as neither has the 60 caps necessary to get in under the Giteau Law rule.
White seems to be the one Cheika would most like to have. White is 28 and playing scrum-half for premiership leaders Exeter, but he is off contract at the end of this season.
White went to France and played for Montpellier after being shunned for inclusion with the Wallabies in 2015.
An Aussie teammate of White at Exeter is Oliver Atkins, who bears testament to the influence White has had in helping Exeter to the top.
“I don’t know what his [White] future plans are at this stage; obviously Cheik would be silly not to try and recruit someone of that stature back to Australia, especially with the World Cup coming up,” Atkins told ESPN.
Exeter is rotten with proficient halfbacks and Atkins is of the opinion that the competition for playing time has enabled White to elevate his game.
Skelton has been valuable to defending England premiership champs Saracens. The Saracens are currently second on the ladder, so Cheika is after a couple of top players with top teams, so the question becomes one of how interested White and Skelton are in representing Australia, as it would seem that England professional football can easily outspend the Australian Super Rugby competition.