A BACKFLIP on eligibility rules means overseas-based Australian players including George Smith, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell will be available for this year's World Cup.
With an ever-growing list of Wallaby players lured overseas by cashed-up clubs in France, England and Japan, Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver said anyone who had played more than 60 Tests or held an ARU contract for at least seven years, could now be selected to play for the Wallabies.
Australia and New Zealand have been the only two countries with rules in place banning the selection of overseas-based players in their national teams.
Pulver said the decision would also support Australia's Super Rugby teams by encouraging our best players to remain in Australia for longer.
"Those players who satisfy the 60-game and seven-year threshold have already invested heavily and contributed considerably to Australian Rugby over a long period of time," he said.
"The policy also encourages those players who have not yet reached that point to commit exclusively to Australian Rugby in the prime of their career."
Giteau (pictured), who has 92 Wallabies caps and has been a superstar with French club Toulon, called for the eligibility rules to be changed earlier his week, saying he would "love to play for my country again".
Waratahs captain Dave Dennis, who last week said the rules needed to be changed to allow certain overseas-based players to play for Australia, yesterday announced he had re-signed until the end of 2017.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU
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