Giteau still to join Wallabies

The Wallabies are still waiting for veteran playmaker Matt Giteau to join their ranks as they build toward their opening Rugby Championship Test next month.

All of the other main overseas-based stars who missed the recent series with England are back home, including backs Drew Mitchell, Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Around 40 players are currently training in Sydney, with coach Michael Cheika expected to cull that to around 30 by the end of next week.

The 33-year-old Giteau, a veteran of 102 Tests, last played for Australia in the 2015 World Cup final and then returned to his French club Toulon.

He has been spending time with his family, but there’s no suggestion he won’t be part of the setup for the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship campaign.

Giteau was perhaps the player most missed by the Wallabies when swept by England in their June three-Test series.

Cheika was unable to go with dual playmakers for most of the England series, because of a dearth of fit and available players.

Instead he opted for the direct running of the previously-uncapped Samu Kerevi at inside centre for the first two games.

Injuries rendered Kurtley Beale unavailable for all three Tests and Matt Toomua for the first two, while Christian Lealiifano had a delayed start to the series after waiting for the birth of his child.

Among the uncapped players training in Sydney currently is highly-rated NSW Waratahs prop Tom Robertson. he 21-year-old front rower made a good impression in his first senior season with the Tahs and is widely considered a Test player of the near future.

Others include newly-signed Western Force centre Bill Meakes and Rebels back-rower Lopeti Timani.

The Australian Rugby Union finally confirmed on Wednesday that the Wallabies will have a training camp on the NSW Central Coast prior to their first Rugby Championship/Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Sydney on August 20.

They will be based there from August 8-12 and split their time between Central Coast Stadium in Gosford and the nearby gym facilities at Central Coast Leagues Club.

It will represent a return home for at least one senior Wallaby, with veteran back Adam Ashley-Cooper hailing from the region.

“The only reason I’ve returned from France is because they finally followed through on my request to have camp on the coast,” Ashley-Cooper quipped.

“I am always proud and honoured to say that I was born and raised on the Central Coast. The people, culture and beaches are some of the best in the world.

“I know Wallabies players love getting out and about around the country and visiting towns out of the major cities, but I guess this one is extra special from me because I’m returning home.”

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