Mitchell and Alexander commit to Wallabies
February 9, 2011
Drew Mitchell: The latest key player to commit to Australia © Getty Images
Drew Mitchell and Ben Alexander are the latest Wallabies to commit to the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), following Adam Ashley-Cooper and Stephen Moore in rejecting overseas offers to stay on home soil after the Rugby World Cup.
Waratahs winger Mitchell has nailed down a first choice position for Australia and the 55-cap try machine became the subject of interest from France following his stellar year in 2010.
But in another sign concerns over a post-World Cup exodus may be unfounded, Mitchell, 26, has re-signed with club and country until 2013.
Brumbies prop Alexander, who has 24 Test caps and is a favourite of Robbie Deans, is also sticking with his Super Rugby franchise having looked at lucrative options abroad.
Both players said their decisions were based on a sense of unfinished business with a rapidly improving Wallabies outfit and that they would be trying to convince fellow off-contract team-mates to stay put.
Mitchell said: "I've been fortunate enough to have been involved with the Wallabies since 2005, but while I've had some great experiences in that time, we haven't been able to win any of the big trophies like the Bledisloe [Cup], the Tri-Nations or the World Cup.
"I really feel, with the progress that we've made as a team in the last two years especially, that we are capable of winning those tournaments. I didn't want to leave without having given myself the best shot to share in those experiences."
Alexander added: "I was very thorough about it and explored all of the options because it was a significant decision in terms of my career. I drew up a set of criteria around what was important to me and that helped out a lot. Once I had gone through the process, the decision to stay was easy.
"We've done a lot of hard work with the Wallabies over the last three years to get to this point in our development. There's still more to come - possibly the hardest work still lies ahead - but I think we all sense that we are on to something good, that the best of the team is still to come. Walking away from that wasn't really an option."
ARU chief John O'Neill hailed the retention of two more potential defectors, saying: "The most pleasing aspect of the past week is to hear how our leading players are still driven by the desire to make the Wallabies the best in the world. They feel a sense of unfinished business until the goal is achieved. That tells me the culture around the team is strong."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham