THE NEW ZEALAND Rugby Union (NZRU) has no plans to follow Australia’s example and allow foreign-based players to pull on the All Black jersey.
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) changed its eligibility policy on Wednesday so that players with 60 Tests under their belt and an ARU contract for seven years can move abroad but still play for the Wallabies.
The decision will allow Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to select the likes of Matt Giteau, George Smith and Drew Mitchell for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
But although the All Blacks face a post-World Cup exodus, with the likes of Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith set to leave New Zealand Super Rugby clubs after the tournament, NZRU CEO Steve Tew reckons it is unlikely his organisation will copy the ARU.
“You never say never but our policy is that to wear the All Black jersey you have to play your rugby in New Zealand,” Tew told Radio Sport on Thursday.
“We have treated some players I guess with a little bit of flexibility in terms of their return to the country when they’ve become eligible but the core policy is if you’re not here, you don’t play for us and we think that’s been a very important part of our player-retention strategy and there’s no immediate thought of changing that.
“Right now the player market is incredibly competitive — it’s that time of the four-year cycle. We had quite a long discussion about it around the board table yesterday and we have no intentions of changing that policy but we’re constantly reviewing what we’re doing and if circumstances change we’d be foolish not to think about it but right now our policy is the policy and that’s the end of it.”
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