Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell didn’t miss a beat in their first training session back in the Wallabies fold, coach Michael Cheika says.
The France-based pair, who are the first beneficiaries of the Australian Rugby Union’s relaxed eligibility rules for overseas players, were put through the wringer in a tough morning session for the 40-man Australian squad on the Sunshine Coast on Monday.
In a possible early pointer to how Giteau might be used on the road to September’s World Cup in England and Wales, the former Brumbies and Force utility spent time running at inside centre alongside flyhalf Quade Cooper, rather than fulfilling the chief playmaker’s role himself.
Cheika said he expected Giteau and Mitchell would have felt “nervous” reacquainting themselves with the Wallabies set-up.
“It’s different, it’s a whole new shape of play, different intensity,” Cheika said.
“But I’ll tell you – they didn’t look too out of place.
“They’re class players, that’s why they’re back here.
“I’m sure that the nerve endings that they know they need to tap into to play at the international level will be starting to agitate now.
“They’re going to get really excited about the opportunity and it will be straight back on I think once the liniment’s being put on before a Test match.”
Cheika intends to rifle through as many combinations as possible during Australia’s week-long camp at the Sunshine Coast Stadium in Caloundra and is keen to see not only how his foreign legion adapts, but what the Australian-based Wallabies can learn from them.
“I’ve played overseas myself, I know you come back with different experiences,” he said.
“They can pass that down both on the field and then in the preparation side of things as well, to all the other players.
“I’m looking at trying to get as much experience into the team as possible to match up and merge with the players that we have that are younger.”