Wallabies’ French connection set to return

Part of the Wallabies’ French foreign legion, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau, are expected to be named in Australia’s train-squad for the Rugby Championship opener on Thursday afternoon.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will announce a 34 or 35-man squad as Australia build towards the opening game of the series against South Africa in Brisbane on July 18.

The Wallabies will hold two press conferences on Thursday, one in Sydney and another in Brisbane.

Mitchell tweeted a photo and him and fellow Toulon-based star Giteau on Thursday raising a glass of wine on a plane with the caption: “See you soon Mum!!”

Cheika dropped a fair hint the duo would be in the squad when asked about the pair on Wednesday and warned they could be in for a tough slog at training, with the Wallabies going into camp on the Sunshine Coast on Sunday.

“If we are going to see these guys back in Australian colours, then the best thing is to get them back as early as possible to see them in the hard training and the tough preparation for Test footy to see if they really want it,” Cheika said.

“That’s should be good fun for them, if they are picked for the squad … not that we’re going to pick on them at all.”

France-based back-rower George Smith is expected to play a part in the Rugby Championship, but Cheika might hold the 34-year-old back until later in the tournament.

The Australian Rugby Union eased eligibility rules earlier this year, allowing overseas-based players to be selected for Tests.

Those who have 60 Test caps and held a contract with Australian rugby for at least seven years can be picked.

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