Wallabies vs Argentina, Lalakai Foketi, Giteau Law, World Cup, LIV golf, video
Amid rumors of golfer Cameron Smith’s decision to take the money and run at LIV, Lalakai Foketi – the relatively unknown testing center – showed that there are still things in professional sport that the money can’t buy. In his case, a Wallabies jersey.
The question, however, is how long, particularly with rumors that Rugby Australia’s eligibility laws will be busted for next year’s World Cup.
It is understood in March that Foketi, 27, turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to continue his career for the Wallabies.
With his career progression at the Waratahs hampered by injuries, he was offered a big deal worth over $500,000 to join French Top 14 club Clermont.
He declined but soon after fellow Australian Irae Simone took the money and therefore is unlikely to play for the Wallabies again based on Rugby’s new foreign player selection policy Australia.
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Foketi, who made his debut against Wales last November, will start in the No12 shirt for the first time in the absence of Samu Kerevi and Hunter Paisami.
Simone is in line to contest her third Test, having curiously been named on the bench ahead of Noah Lolesio.
Wondering what Lolesio, who played in all three Tests against England, and two-time NRL Premiership winner Suliasi Vunivalu must think after being left behind?
After all, it was only recently that the duo re-signed with Rugby Australia.
Now the two seem to be slipping down the pecking order, whereas in Vunivalu’s case, the top rookie was only allowed a few minutes off the bench at the SCG.
Still, Foketi’s decision to refuse the money is curious.
He is not the only Australian player to turn down offers abroad, or even return home, for the lure of the gold jersey.
Nic White and Matt To’omua dreamed of playing for the Wallabies and returned home ahead of the 2019 World Cup to continue their international debuts.
Others. as James O’Connor, followed suit.
Nick Frost, the 22-year-old rising star, has also reneged on a deal to join Robbie Deans’ Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan’s Ligue 1 competition.
After a stunning game for the Brumbies, Frost’s coach Dan McKellar has raised the possibility of him retiring. RA, with his direction and the blessing of the Japanese club, deftly managed to get the second rower out of the case.
It’s a different story for Foketi because as talented as the center is, he still hasn’t made Rennie’s initial squad for the England series. Only injury, along with Kerevi’s desire to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games, saw the Waratah called up.
Players like Foketi, as well as Hamish Stewart who also fancy a Wallabies cap, are the bread and butter of national rugby. Without them, the game Down Under would have invested too much in too little, leaving too little for the raw talent below.
“I left after finishing school. I made my debut for the Rebels and then went to France when I was young and realized quickly that was the dream and that’s what I wanted to do with my rugby career. said Foketi on Friday.
“I’m grateful to be here and I’ve worked hard to get here.
“With other options and other things, (they) haven’t really been at the forefront of my mind. My family is happy in Sydney, and that’s another big reason, but it’s always the pinnacle of rugby, for me.
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This is why RA, in private and in public, will not consider opening the floodgates and choosing overseas widely, as the fear is that this will decimate Super Rugby and cripple its stakeholders, namely the franchises. of Super Rugby, especially in non-World Cup years.
Next year will be the litmus test. Even after Rennie floated the idea of raising the possibility of adding an additional ‘overseas’ fourth choice for the Rugby Championship ahead of their Argentina tour, RA privately shut down any hopes the third-year international coach could choose Rory Arnold, Kerevi, Marika Koroibete and Quade Cooper in the same team.
Season-ending injuries to Cooper and Kerevi saved Rennie from an intriguing decision.
Yet for months rumors have swirled beneath the surface that eligibility criteria will be scrapped for the World Cup year, with as many as five or six players in the mix.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen and injuries could still have a telling impact.
But as world No. 2 golfer Smith sits on a $140 million deal to join the LIV Golf Series, sports stars around the world are increasingly choosing money over legacy.
Who can blame them? Private equity and new successes seem to be the only way to put a stop to Wallabies heading overseas.
Its sustainability remains questionable, but with Australia hosting a World Cup in 2027 (men) and 2029 (women), the governing body will do everything possible to keep the players at home.