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Australian rugby has received a huge boost ahead of the World Cup, with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to return Down Under less than 12 months after leaving for Northampton in the English Premiership.

The Roar can reveal that the 2019 World Cup Wallaby agreed to terms with the Rebels on Monday.  

He’s not the only Australian in England who is set to return home either, with Leicester Tigers Premiership winner Harry Potter to join Simon Cron at the Western Force.

Both men have spoken with Wallabies coach Eddie Jones over the past 12 months.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto has signed with the Rebels and could rocket back into the World Cup mix. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Potter, 25, had a rapid rise at the Tigers and the outside back, who has also featured at outside centre, came close to earning a call-up to England under Jones last year.

Salakaia-Loto, meanwhile, had some brief communication with Jones at the start of the year.

His return could see him rocket into the Wallabies’ World Cup mix, with Salakaia-Loto sharing many of the same characteristics of Courtney Lawes – the blindside/lock who captained England on their 2-1 series victory Down Under last July.

He left the Reds last year after falling out of favour at the club.

But the 198cm, 123kg forward, who can play in the second-row and at blindside flanker, is someone with immense potential.

Sam Whitelock of the All Blacks competes with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto of the Wallabies during the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

While he’s played 30 Tests, Salakaia-Loto’s ceiling is far greater than the output that he’s delivered on the field.

During the 2019 World Cup, the forward featured in all five matches, including the Wallabies’ quarter-final loss to Jones’ England.

Someone with immense power and prowess at the lineout, he’s the bruising type of forward that Jones could well turn to.

Salakaia-Loto never shut the door on a Wallabies return.

Even last year, having been left out by Brad Thorn’s Reds, the forward said he would try and push his credentials from England.

“It’s definitely not over at 30 Tests. I want to be able to build a case for 31 and if that is from England that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

Steve Borthwick, (L) the Leicester Tigers director of rugby, celebrates with Harry Potter after their Gallagher Premiership Rugby Final win over Saracens at Twickenham Stadium on June 18, 2022 in London. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Now, having put pen to paper with the Rebels, he is significantly closer to a Wallabies recall than he would have been had he stayed at the Saints.

Just like Kane Douglas, who signed with the Reds for 2016 to make him eligible to play for the Wallabies for the 2015 World Cup campaign, he is eligible immediately to be called up by Jones.

His return comes at the perfect time, with Wallabies lock Matt Philip set to join rising Japanese powerhouse Cannon Eagles and Trevor Hosea heading to Suntory Sungoliath.

Suntory, who have Jones as a consultant, threw bucket loads of cash in Hosea’s direction. In the end, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Philip, meanwhile, remains eligible for the Wallabies this year and returned to action last weekend against the Highlanders.

While their departures are blows, it freed up room in the salary cap to bring home Salakaia-Loto – the 26-year-old who is coming into the prime of his career.

What’s more, his arrival is aligned to the Rebels’ cohesion desire, having spent years playing with incoming Wallabies star Taniela Tupou as well as Alex Mafi at the Reds.

With Rob Leota edging closer to a return, the Rebels’ pack will be one of Australian rugby’s best.

Potter, meanwhile, is a quality finisher, who was a prolific try-scorer at the Tigers.

He will add to the depth of the Force side, who have been the most active Australian Super Rugby side under Cron this season.

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