Winger Drew Mitchell has vigorously defended the recall of the Wallabies’ overseas-based veteran backs.
Mitchell (aged 32, 70 caps) and fellow World Cup final starters and backs Adam Ashley-Cooper (32, 114), Matt Giteau (33, 102) and Will Genia (28, 66) were all restored to the squad after they missed the June series loss to England.
Some pundits have criticised Wallabies coach Michael Cheika’s decision to bring the veterans back for the Rugby Championship campaign starting next week against New Zealand.
Clearly, Cheika and the players themselves feel the overseas quartet still have plenty to offer, both on and off the field.
“If we weren’t deserving of our positions, we wouldn’t be here,” Mitchell said.
“There’s been a lot that’s had to go on to get us back here at this point and it would have been a lot easier just to move on and select other players.
“But in terms of progression planning, I think we’re not only back here just to do the stuff on the field.
“I think a lot of our role here is to help giving off some of the experience that we’ve had, whether it be good or bad.
“Help some guys that haven’t been in these situations before and maybe help alleviate a bit of nerves or just help giving them a bit of clarity going into these types of situations.”
Mitchell said the England series had allowed other players opportunities with Test newcomers in centre Samu Kerevi and winger Dane Haylett-Petty both earning praise from Cheika.
Mitchell, who hasn’t played since May for his French club Toulon, has been recovering from groin surgery and sat out training on Thursday after taking a bump on his achilles.
He didn’t anticipate that issue or his groin causing any further problems and expected to participate fully in training next week, having resumed contact work on Tuesday.
Despite not playing for three months, Mitchell was confident he would be right to go on Saturday if chosen to face the All Blacks in Sydney.