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    Wallabies duo sign up to stay in Oz

    2015-04-24 09:16

    Sydney - Reds prop James Slipper and lock Rob Simmons have ensured they will have no immediate need for the new dispensation for overseas-based Wallabies by signing long-term deals to remain in Australian rugby.

    Australia, which had previously considered only home-based players for selection, partially reversed their policy this week to allow players to continue their test careers if they have played 60 tests and seven years of Super Rugby.

    Slipper, who has already met that criteria with 63 caps to his name, said his preference had always been to stay at home and has signed a new three-year deal through to the end of 2017.

    "The Wallabies are the pinnacle and wearing the jersey really does mean a lot to me," the 25-year-old Reds captain, who played in all 14 of Australia's tests last year, said in a news release.

    "You never know when the journey is going to end, so you have to make the most of it while the opportunity exists."

    Simmons, who has signed up until the end of 2016, missed just one Wallabies test last year, winning his 50th cap in the defeat to England at Twickenham on the November tour.

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika hailed the signings as "significant".

    "You can never have enough talented tight-five forwards, and James and Rob have already shown an ability to play their positions at a world class level," Cheika said.

    "Their re-signings give me a lot of confidence moving forward with the Wallabies programme, and I am currently quite pleased with the overall level of talent we have had commit to Australian Rugby beyond this year."

    Retaining two of the players who helped them win the 2011 Super Rugby title was also a boost for the Reds, who have endured a miserable couple of seasons under Richard Graham.

    They are also set to lose Wallabies scrumhalf Will Genia, lock James Horwill and possibly flyhalf Quade Cooper at the end of the year.

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