Mark Gasnier and Sonny Bill Williams targeted for Barbarians teamFRENCH defectors Mark Gasnier and Sonny Bill Williams are being targeted as shock selections to play for the Barbarians against Australia in Sydney next year.
The Australian Rugby Union has announced plans for a Barbarians match to kick-off next year's representative season, with chief executive John O'Neill saying the Barbarians would have "showstopping appeal".
While former Wallabies such as George Gregan, Stephen Larkham and Toutai Kefu are among those being openly considered, behind the scenes the ARU is driving hard for Gasnier and Williams to be included.
Other drawcards include UK-based New Zealanders Aaron Mauger, Luke McAlister, Chris Jack and Carl Hayman and South African Percy Montgomery. Former Penrith captain Craig Gower, the form Australian in France's Top 14, is also a strong contender.
The availability of Gower (Bayonne) and Gasnier (Stade Francais) would depend on whether their teams make the finals. Both are in contention. The Top 14 grand final will be on the same day as the Barbarians match, June 6.
Williams' Toulon is struggling to avoid relegation and no chance for the finals, meaning his season will end on May 16. This gives him three weeks to be ready for the Wallabies-Barbarians match at the Sydney Football Stadium.
O'Neill was guarded during Monday's announcement but The Daily Telegraph can confirm Williams and Gasnier top the ARU hitlist.
"In terms of their playing personnel, the possibilities for the Barbarians are enticing," he said.
"We're confident this Barbarians team will have show-stopping appeal.
"The British and Irish Lions will be on tour to South Africa, but there are high-profile All Blacks and Springboks, current members of the World Cup semi-finalists Argentina, and some very well-known Australians tied to overseas clubs at present."
Gasnier's Stade Francais are currently second in the Top 14 while Bayonne is fourth.
Stade Francais coach Ewen McKenzie has said Gower is playing "exceptionally well" at inside centre after switching from rugby league.
The match will be the Wallabies' first at the SFS since a 41-29 win over New Zealand Maori eight years ago.
They will play a week before the first Test against Italy in Canberra.
More importantly, it will be the first time in 60 years that the Wallabies have played the Barbarians on Australian soil.
Usually Barbarians matches are treated as a tour ender for northern hemisphere campaigns.
The Wallabies recently beat the Barbarians 18-11 at Wembley to cap off their successful spring tour.
"The success of that match hardened our resolve to finalise discussions with the Barbarians about them coming to Australia for the first time," O'Neill said.
"Those negotiations also ensure us a Barbarians side of real quality, one that will help deliver a new experience to Australian sporting fans, and at a ground where our national team has not played for almost a decade."
The Wallabies have won seven of 10 games against the Barbarians since the first in 1948, including the past six. http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,24834705-23217,00.html