Former Wallabies lock Peter FitzSimons has described the withdrawal of three star players for the spring tour as a “massive stuff up” that has halted the momentum of positivity surrounding the world’s No.3 team.
Japan-based Quade Cooper, Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon were all named in the squad to tour the United Kingdom for three Tests but did not travel after electing to spend preseason with their club teams.
Wallabies coach Dave Rennie said the players had asked Rugby Australia not to invoke World Rugby’s regulation nine which would force the clubs to release them for the official international window.
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The Wallabies play Scotland in Edinburgh on November 8 before clashes with England and Wales.
“This is so disappointing,” FitzSimons said on Nine’s Sports Sunday.
“Wallabies, you’ve won five in a row and you had Quade Cooper lining up the winning kick – could he do it, could he not do it?
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“He slotted it over the black dot, the goodies win!
“And they’re on their way and they beat Japan and they’re about to land in England.
“And then suddenly, what? These three guys suddenly can’t play?
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“It really is a massive stuff up and for once in my life I can’t be sure who’s responsible.
“But I would have thought you would have said to these three players, ‘just so we’re clear, before you come back into this, we’re absolutely clear, you’re not going to disappear back into club land are you, you’re going to stay with us for the spring tour?’
“I would have thought that that was a precondition to them coming back.
“It’s gutting… it’s not unreasonable, if you feel an allegiance to $1.5 million or whatever it is. But it’s really not club or country, it’s big, big bucks.”
Fellow Sports Sunday panelist Casey Dellacqua, a former tennis professional, said it was a difficult decision for the modern athlete.
“I was always let’s put the green and gold on any day but a small window of opportunity for players to make a lot of money,” Dellacqua said.
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FitzSimons then posed Dellacqua a hypothetical question of choosing between playing for Australia in the Federation Cup or earning $1 million at a tournament in Dubai.
“I’d still play for Australia,” Dellacqua said.
As for FitzSimons? “I’d say taxi!”