Sport McMahon wants Wallabies return but Rennie happy with local backrowers

14:20  04 may  2021
14:20  04 may  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is so impressed with a batch of rising young Australian backrowers he has not made contact with Sean McMahon, despite the Japan-based flanker expressing his willingness to play Test rugby again this winter.

a group of people playing a game of football: Sean McMahon hasn't played for the Wallabies since 2017. © Stuart Walmsley Sean McMahon hasn't played for the Wallabies since 2017.

One week after All Blacks and fellow Suntory star Beauden Barrett revealed both McMahon and Samu Kerevi want to feature at the next World Cup, sources close to McMahon confirmed he has told family and friends of his desire to play for the Wallabies, as soon as this year.

McMahon, who was a dynamic presence at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, hasn't worn a Wallabies jersey since the 2017 Spring Tour when the 26-Test back rower was arguably the hottest property in Australian rugby.

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The Queensland product signed with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath, however, and was subsequently ruled ineligible for selection under the Giteau Law criteria, which states a player must have 60 Test caps, and have given seven years service, to be eligible for Wallabies selection while based overseas.

Rugby Australia announced a tweak to the Giteau Law last year in which Rennie can pick two players from abroad that are under the 60-Test threshhold.

Despite having those slots at his disposal, an RA spokesperson told the Herald no contact has been made with McMahon. It is unclear to what extent Rennie factored in McMahon's availability in his backrow plans for the winter.

McMahon's management said the flanker has now planned holidays instead.

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Rennie is on record stating his preference to pick players that aren't based in Australia and the case of McMahon appears to be no exception.

The Wallabies coach searched for the right third player to combine with captain Michael Hooper and Harry Wilson in the back row during his first season in charge but the No. 6 stocks have drastically improved in the months since.

At the Brumbies, Rob Valetini has emerged as a world class prospect. Rennie praised the 22-year-old after he re-signed with ACT and RA until the end of 2023 on Tuesday.

"From an Australian rugby point of view it's incredibly pleasing to re-sign a player of Rob's potential," Rennie said.

"We saw really big shifts from Rob in the last weeks of our campaign in 2020 and to his credit he's worked incredibly hard in the off season and has been a stand out performer for the Brumbies week in week out.

"His impact on the game, with or without the ball is impressive and that's exciting for the Wallabies moving forward."

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Along with Valetini, Rennie remains a big fan of Lachlan Swinton, who has continued his firebrand style of rugby when fit at the Waratahs this year.

Queensland openside Fraser McReight isn't a traditional No. 6 option but if Rennie is willing to shuffle his back row composition, he has also displayed he is Test standard.

In Perth, sevens convert Tim Anstee has enjoyed a breakout season at the Force.

McMahon was expected to form part of the Australian sevens squad that strives to win a gold medal in Tokyo after returning to the squad in 2019. But the 26-year-old told Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh last week that he would not be available.

"We'd been in regular contact. I know where he's coming from. But it's disappointing," Walsh told the Herald.

"We had a fair bit of comms and planning go into it but with uncertain times with COVID and so many different things going on, he has to make the right decision for him."

The Roar’s NRL expert tips and predictions: Round 9 .
An injury crisis gripping the NRL, as well as a couple of surprising form lines should make for some intriguing contests in Round 9. The Roar’s NRL expert tipping panel are back to tell you who wins and why. Those injuries mean there are no certainties right at the moment, but the way things are going, there is a top five which is well established ahead of the rest of the pack. From what we’ve seen, this gap it is showing no signs of narrowing. That is a lesson I learnt the hard way last week with three predicted upsets not coming off.

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