Overseas-based stars Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and George Smith are all available from the outset when the Wallabies begin the countdown to the World Cup by targeting the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup trophies.
Coach Michael Cheika said on Wednesday he’d spoken to the trio of Test veterans – who became eligible under relaxed Australian Rugby Union rules – and all had put their hands up from the opening Test against South Africa in Brisbane on July 18.
“They’ve all shown their interest in playing, so it all comes down to the selection table like everyone else,” Cheika told AAP at Wednesday’s Wallabies’ jersey launch in Sydney.
“I think they’ve played well, all of them. Matt and Drew in a team that’s gone well and George in a team that’s been struggling in Lyon.”
One hundred days out from World Cup kick off at Twickenham, rugby’s showpiece is a huge lure but Cheika and his players are concentrating on gaining a flying start before contesting their Cup pool of death including England and Wales.
To do that they aim to make the most of the abbreviated Rugby Championship series and finally overcome the world champion All Blacks to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup, something Australia hasn’t done for 13 years.
“We know you’ve got to talk about these things (World Cup) … but we are only looking at what’s coming up next,” Cheika said.
“It’s my first experience with (the Bledisloe Cup) and I’m going to be extremely eager to try and do our best against the best team in the world.”
Queensland and Wallabies prop James Slipper is tired of seeing the All Blacks holding up the Bledisloe trophy and believes there will seldom be a better time to turn the tables.
“I’m sick of it … I want it that bad,” Slipper told AAP.
“It’s one trophy that most rugby players would put first.
“Winning is a habit and if you create that habit, you are going to build confidence from that.
“Going into the World Cup having built that winning culture can only help you in those big games under pressure situations.”
Brumbies and Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore echoed Slipper’s sentiments.
“Its been a long time since we’ve held the Bledisloe aloft and Cheik’s spoken about that already,” Moore told AAP.
“Anytime you get the opportunity to lift a bit of silverware, you want to give it a full crack.
“It means a lot to us to get that opportunity again this year and we want to make sure we give it our best to have a shot at the Rugby Championship and the Bledisloe.”
Cheika said he would pick a squad of around 45 at the conclusion of the Super Rugby regular season this weekend, including the many still playing in the finals.
He will then whittle the squad down to 35 for the opening two Tests of the campaign against South Africa and Argentina.