Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has given the strongest indication yet he will push hard for an expansion of the Overseas Player Selection Policy [OPSP] -- dubbed the Giteau Law -- in a bid to have the strongest squad possible at next year's Rugby World Cup.
Rennie cut a relaxed figure in his final team naming press conference of 2022 despite the mounting pressure on the Wallabies amid their 4-9 season, the coach explaining why he had turned to Ben Donaldson over Noah Lolesio at fly-half for this weekend's finale against Wales in Cardiff.
But a bigger talking point will be his comments around the Giteau Law, and what looms as a key presentation to Rugby Australia board members sometime after the team returns home next week.
While the unprecedented injury toll and the strength and conditioning programs will be firmly in the spotlight at that meeting, Rennie gave the clearest indication yet he will push for an expansion of the OPSP that would allow him to pick more than the three players per series or tournament that was legislated in February of this year.
"Yeah, that's a work in progress," Rennie told reporters in Cardiff. "Our concern around three, I'll give you an example; let's say we have a big run of injuries in one position and now we need to grab an overseas player now to fill that hole; does that mean that someone like Samu Kerevi, a Quade Cooper or a Marika Koroibete miss out because we're restricted in our numbers? So we're having those conversations at the moment.
"We've made a real effort to pick from home and so we haven't had massive overseas influence this year; we're allowed three this tour, we've only had two; we had less than that in the Rugby Championship when Quade got injured.
"So we've really pushed to try and develop the guys at home, but I guess to have a little bit of insurance around if we have injuries and we get put under pressure in certain positions, we don't want that to hamstring us in other spots."
So far this year Rennie has brought in Cooper, Kerevi, Koroibete -- who were all included for the series against England -- Bernard Foley, and locks Rory Arnold and Will Skelton, from either Japan or France.
Such have been the impact of those players at differing times over the past two years Rennie may well have a number of up to five or even six overseas players for the World Cup; Foley's return in particular seemingly putting him ahead of both Lolesio and Donaldson in the fly-half pecking order, one that is further complicated by Cooper's Achilles injury.
While Cooper is three months ahead of prop Taniela Tupou in his recovery -- there have been two further Achilles instances this season which is one of the reasons the Wallabies S&C program is in the spotlight -- the uncertainty around whether the veteran playmaker will be ready to go for France has seemingly made Foley's inclusion all the more important.
And Rennie indicated he would head to Japan early next year to sit down with the clubs of those players based in Japan [Cooper, Foley, Kerevi, Arnold and Koroibet] to map out injury management and development plans that can coincide with their League One seasons.
"There's a handful of players who are playing overseas now who could come into contention, and we haven't fixed on the numbers of foreign players that would be in a World Cup side," Rennie explained.
"But look it's all around relationships, so the plan would be early next year I'll head to Japan and spend time at the clubs and catch up with players; they've already got programs from an S&C perspective, Keiran Cleary's [Wallabies head physiotherapist] got a strong connection with those guys as well, so any medical support they need, and S&C, we'll work in with the clubs and with the individuals.
"What we know is that it is a World Cup year and players are going to do everything they can to be in the best possible nick to get selected, and if they're not then they won't be."
Whether Rugby Australia is open to adjusting its OPSP, for a World Cup year at least, remains to be seen.
It is likely the governing body would be loathed to go to an open slather situation because of the fears of an exodus from Super Rugby, but expanding the limit for overseas-based players solely for the game's showpiece would, on the basis of the contributions such players have made in the last two seasons, seemingly boost the Wallabies' chances of going deep into the knockout stage of the World Cup.
"We've got to sit down with the board and have a chat around their views on it, we'll sell a case about what we think's best for the game and best for the country and we'll settle on something in the new year."
While Rennie is expected to retain his position despite the Wallabies' horror year, RA chief executive Andy Marinos has hinted their may be a tweak to his coaching team or a selection panel introduced, which could create a similarly uneasy situation to the one that existed when Michael O'Connor and Scott Johnson were part of a three-man group that chose Australia squads with former coach Michael Cheika; Johnson also sat over Cheika in a director of rugby role, and later was the man who worked hard to hire Rennie.
Cheika, who is now in charge of the Pumas, said that was a change should have never agreed to. And Rennie doesn't want to see his control diluted either.
"I wouldn't change what we're doing from a coaching perspective, I think we've got high-quality people," Rennie said. "I think if you spoke to the players, there'd be an enormous support for the coaching group and our medics and our S&C, so I don't envisage any change."