Quade Cooper and Michael Hooper were high-profile omissions for the Wallabies but Ikitau was genuinely one of a handful of world class players available.
The 25-year-old in his athletic prime suffered a shoulder injury against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, which was the only concern.
In an interview with Nathan Williamson from Rugby.com.au, the Wallabies centre revealed his timeline to return to play was in time for the start of the World Cup.
The hypocrisy of former coach Eddie Jones and how he left the dirty work up to the manager to inform him of non-selection left a bad taste for No 13.
“I was in contact with the doctor every couple and days and they had me on a conditioning program for a couple of weeks,” he explained to Rugby.com.au,
“They had this one-off Wallabies training if you were based in Brisbane. It was myself, Quade (Cooper), Taniela (Tupou) and the rest of the Brisbane boys
“They trained for two days and then named the squad on the Friday and I saw Quade there and said ‘I think I’m a chance to be in the squad’.
“When they said they were announcing, they were going to call all the players the night before and it wasn’t until 9:30 pm when I thought ‘what the hell is going on’ and I get a message from ‘Webby’ (World Cup team manager Chris Webb) to get in touch with Eddie and he’ll let you know what your plans are.
“I was like ‘does that mean I’m not in the squad’ and he confirmed.”
Ikitau revealed that his non-selection was due to still being unable to play due to injury, but that reasoning didn’t add up with four other injured players taken to France.
Uncapped rookie fullback Max Jorgensen was one of the selections despite being injured and having never donned the Wallabies jersey before.
“I was just disappointed at the comms I received,” Ikitau said.
“A good head coach would’ve called you and told you why you weren’t in the team but at the end of the day we got the manager doing the rounds.
“I was disappointed with that and the reasoning around why I wasn’t in the squad was because they didn’t want to take injured players and there was three or four guys injured guys in there.”
The reaction from Australian rugby media and fans alike has caused fury with the non-selection labelled “Eddie’s biggest crime”, “bewildering” for leaving out the “rock of the backline”.
Ikitau had established himself as the number one outside centre, starting 25 of his 29 Tests for the Wallabies since his debut in 2021 against France.
His form in his first year of international rugby propelled Ikitau into the conversation as “world’s best” with his stellar defence a hallmark of his play.
Just remember that one of the best players in the Wallabies setup was told by a team manager to get in contact with Eddie Jones to find out ‘what your plans are’.
Jones didn’t ring players on time because he was getting his dog home from UK.
— Tom Decent (@tomdecent) January 17, 2024
Of all of Eddie’s bewildering decisions the treatment of one of Australia’s few genuinely world class players is right up there. https://t.co/JIFweCERx6
— Paul Cully (@paulcullystuff) January 17, 2024
This was arguably Eddie’s biggest crime. More so than leaving out say Hoops as we had quality depth with McReight. Luckily Len is going enough to make at least one more world cup. He deserves it. https://t.co/I6BzpIPydI
— Huw Tindall (@HuwTindall) January 17, 2024
I can’t read on before commenting. This was the one selection that dropped the curtain on the EddieJones debacle. Any rugby supporter with half a brain knew he was the first pick. He was a rock in our back line and potentially a world XV player in his position
— Marty Askew (@martyaskew) January 17, 2024
World’s best 13 for two years. I’ll never forgive Jones for picking Jorgo with a similar rehab timeline and not Len. His nepotism was never more clearly in show
— Derek Murray 🇦🇺🇬🇧 (@dmurray59) January 17, 2024
The hypocrisy of Jones was astounding
— Justin Berger (@JustinBerger15) January 17, 2024