Where would the Wallabies be without the Pacific Island connection?

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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102 Have your say

    When the Fijian flyer Eto Nabuli debuts for the Wallabies against Scotland at Allianz tonight, he will be the 16th Pacific Islander of the current squad or those injured to don the coveted gold jersey.

    Add Will Genia, born in Port Moresby with a Papua New Guinean father and Australian mother, and there will be 333 Wallaby caps on duty tonight with Sekope Kepu, Tatafa Polota-Nau, Israel Folau, Tevita Kuridrani, Allan Alaa’laltoa, and Karmichael Hunt, nearly half the starting side.

    And they have all done Australia proud, and will do so for years to come.

    Nabuli will be the sixth Fijian, joining Kuridrani, Henry Speight, Samu Kerevi, Sefa Naivalu, and Taqele Nauyaravovo – between them 74 caps with Kuridrani the senior player on 46.

    There are seven Tongans of either parentage or born in Tonga with Kepu (78 Wallaby caps), Polota-Nau (69), and Folau (53) the senior players with Will Skelton, Tolu Latu, Lopeti Timani, and Chris Feauai-Sautia,earning 230 caps between them.

    The Tongans with the same qualifications are Christian Lealiifano, Alaa’laltoa, and Hunt with 30 caps between them.

    All up in the current squad and including those injured there are 411 Wallaby caps from the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea, with a lot more in store.

    So the Wallabies are along similar lines to the Australian population, quite diverse, and it’s more so when Quade Cooper is added to the mix with his New Zealand heritage.

    Tonight, the Scots are forewarned not to give Eto Nabuli too much space, or all they will see his back and the soles of his feet disappearing at speed.

    And with Folau back in the try-scoring business, the Scots will have their job cut out keeping the men in gold in check.

    And it’s about time that was the case,

    Wallaby rugby is all about running rugby, and that’s the way Michael Cheika was coached to play at the best running rugby club side in the world – the Galloping Greens at Randwick.

    And that’s the way it should be.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (102)

    • June 17th 2017 @ 3:19am
      Stuart Bywater said | June 17th 2017 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      Or the African connection: Goodwin, D&R Hayley+Perret, Pocock, Hardwick et al.

      Fiji and PNG are part of Melanesia. Maoris, Samoans and Tongans are Polynesians.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 3:31am
        Stuart Bywater said | June 17th 2017 @ 3:31am | ! Report

        Fiji and PNG are part of Melanesia. Maoris, Samoans and Tongans are Polynesians. The term Pacific Islanders is meaningless ethnically.

        Where would Australia be without the African connection: Goodwin, D&R Hayley+Perret, Pocock, Hardwick et al?

        An Australian team of Melanesians, Polynesians and African expats may well be stronger than an Australian team without them.

        Perhaps a more erudite Roarer can pick two sides based along these lines.

        Australia’s reliance on overseas sourced players is an indictment on the ARU.

        • June 17th 2017 @ 11:21am
          Stuart Bywater said | June 17th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

          I apologise for any offence given by my reply. It is not intended to be racist, indeed my inclusion of ex-pat Africans of European heritage suggests that it wasn’t. Perhaps my inadvertent omission of Quade Cooper and other Kiwis of European heritage playing Super Rugby added to the misunderstanding.

          The Wallabies have a significant number of players who played their first senior or representative Rugby abroad. My reply was a lament about an apparent lack of adequate structures supporting player development in Australia. At no time did I suggest that foreign sourced players are not entitled or should not be eligible to represent Australia.

          I am, however, critical of how the IRB, distributes tour profits. Rugby boards from the developed nations have adopted a cargo cult mentality in which the best players are stripped from the Melanesia and Polynesia.To earn a living, they must go to Europe or SANZAR. It is much cheaper to recruit players developed in Melanesia or Polynesia, than to develop domestic players in developed countries. With fairer distribution of tour receipts, the Melanesian and Polynesian unions may be able to encourage their players abroad to make themselves available for their home countries rather than their adopted host country.

          In short my earlier reply lamented inadequate player development structures, probably due to inadequate or misplaced funding by the ARU; and the inequitable sharing of tour proceeds by the IRB (World Rugby) and the domestic unions in developed countries.

          I apologise if offence was taken but I am confused as to how my reply was racist or suggested that players raised and developed in Australia were not entitled to represent Australia.

          • June 18th 2017 @ 11:39am
            superba said | June 18th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            No apology necessary

        • June 17th 2017 @ 12:23pm
          Zero Gain said | June 17th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

          Australia is a country of overseas sourced people, excluding our indigenous peoples. You just don’t understand that, do you. Many people actually want to come and live here.

          • June 18th 2017 @ 11:27am
            Stuart Bywater said | June 18th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            Zero Gain,
            Your statement is a ridiculous, baseless extrapolation of my argument. I have the courage to use my name rather than a craven nom de plume.

        • Roar Pro

          June 17th 2017 @ 3:10pm
          Crazy Horse said | June 17th 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

          Godwin, DHP and Hardwick may have been born on the African continent, but the played their junior rugby in WA and are products of Rugby WA’s development program.

          Pocock played some rugby in Zimbabwe but played schools in Brisbane before moving to WA for senior rugby with UWA and the Western Force.

          • June 18th 2017 @ 11:59am
            Stuart Bywater said | June 18th 2017 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            I stated previously that I am confused as to how my reply was racist or suggested that players raised and developed in Australia were not entitled to represent Australia. I am a fan of each of the players mentioned as well as many players from other international teams.

            The essential issue is that much more financial support should be given to developing Rugby at
            1) the community level through schools and amateur clubs
            2) internationally by sharing tour receipts more equitably with developing Rugby nations

            Indigenous Australians deserve the dignity of the use of capital letters as used when describing other ethnic and cultural groups.

            Zero Gain’s understanding of a logical argument is consistent with his understanding of punctuation.

        • June 17th 2017 @ 4:08pm
          Whakaata said | June 17th 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

          Māori is the plural of Māori there is no ‘s’ required

        • June 18th 2017 @ 12:24pm
          Bakkies said | June 18th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

          They’re only sourced if they’re past 20 and to get a contract that says they are willing to qualify for the Wallabies

    • June 17th 2017 @ 4:14am
      jeff dustby said | June 17th 2017 @ 4:14am | ! Report

      how has Australia fared since this started happening? i would say a lot worse. Australia performed better when the majority of players were born here (from all heritages). Imports like Nadalo show how far we have fallen

      • June 17th 2017 @ 5:54am
        Chaz said | June 17th 2017 @ 5:54am | ! Report

        Utter rubbish. Few debates are more offensive than the ones you see flying around the Comments boards (particularly within the NH Home Unions, but also in reference to the Pacific Islands and Aus/NZ) about where players are born. It’s not so much the racist overtones (you’re not a proper citizen fit to represent a country unless you were born there) as the excessive dullness of the debate- when you want to have a go at an opposing side, start with the dullard’s approach of where their players were born.
        Nice piece David- great to read about the positive contribution (in all respects) that overseas born players have brought to a country for a change.

        On a broader subject what a brilliant week-end we’ve got lined up. My issue is there’s just so much to watch- over here Australia Scotland starts at 6am, so I might have to settle for the highlights, followed by Maori Lions then England Argentina ending with the U20 final on Sunday. If I can get away with it I’ll also try to squeeze in Springboks France, although this might be stretching it with my other half – probably highlights instead. Can it get any better? Oh yes, 1st Test Lions ABs next weekend.

        • Roar Guru

          June 17th 2017 @ 10:14am
          PeterK said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          they majority of the pi’s in the oz team are born in aust or came here as young chidlren

          • June 17th 2017 @ 11:29am
            Rock said | June 17th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

            Very true

          • June 18th 2017 @ 1:10am
            Jeff dustby said | June 18th 2017 @ 1:10am | ! Report

            I’d check that.

        • June 17th 2017 @ 4:14pm
          Whakaata said | June 17th 2017 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

          Last night 7 players of Samoan heritage played for the All Blacks all bar one were born here and that 1 foreign born player was born in American Samoa and came to New Zealand as a 4-year-old.

          Approximately 11 of the starting 15 for Samoa were NZ born raised and rugby educated.

          The argument is always what the PI have done for NZ (admittedly their contribution has been great) however the argument is never reversed. If it wasn’t for NZ and Aus the Island teams would not be what they are today.
          How many test caps in last nights Samoa vs ABs game were from NZ born players?

          Whilst their players are of Samoan or Tongan Heritage the increasing numbers are from NZ and or Australia citizens.

        • June 18th 2017 @ 1:11am
          Jeff dustby said | June 18th 2017 @ 1:11am | ! Report

          Didn’t mention race at all. Too many older imports shows we are t developing our own.

    • June 17th 2017 @ 5:47am
      TT said | June 17th 2017 @ 5:47am | ! Report

      Corrections David,

      Will Skelton
      Chris Feauai-Sautia
      Allan Ala’alatoa
      Christian Leali’ifano

      Are all of Samoan heritage..

      Other’s in the squad are

      Lukhan Tui
      Scott Si’o

      Karmichael Hunt is of Cook Island extraction

      • June 17th 2017 @ 6:05am
        Ben said | June 17th 2017 @ 6:05am | ! Report

        Hunt is Cook Island/Samoan.

        • June 17th 2017 @ 6:29am
          TT said | June 17th 2017 @ 6:29am | ! Report

          Yes thanks Ben..

          Was only aware of his Cook Island side

      • Roar Rookie

        June 17th 2017 @ 6:34am
        atlas said | June 17th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Confused, and confusing article. Christian Lealiifano and Will Skelton are New Zealanders, both born Auckland. Heritage yes, but for CL – Samoan heritage – yes, Tongan – no.

        • June 17th 2017 @ 11:26am
          Stuart Bywater said | June 17th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          Kepu played NZ U21s

          • June 18th 2017 @ 12:27pm
            Bakkies said | June 18th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

            So did Martin Johnson when they were called NZ Colts

    • June 17th 2017 @ 7:00am
      bigbaz said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      I wonder where we would be without the Italian heritage, the Greek heritage, the British heritage, see where I going with this.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 17th 2017 @ 7:56am
        Dave_S said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Yeah, beat me to it. We would still be selecting the Ella Bros etc since hardly any indigenous kids play it.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 4:20pm
        Whakaata said | June 17th 2017 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

        Yeah I am with you on this bigbaz, how long can the heritage argument be thrown around. What about all of the Australians and New Zealanders with Irish, English, Scottish heritage…

      • June 18th 2017 @ 1:13am
        Jeff dustby said | June 18th 2017 @ 1:13am | ! Report

        It’s not heritage, many are mercenaries coming here as developed players

    • June 17th 2017 @ 7:19am
      Tigranes said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      Islanders represent 1% of Australia’s population but make over 50% of our national rugby team. How is that diverse?

      • Roar Guru

        June 17th 2017 @ 12:13pm
        Ralph said | June 17th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Rugby is leading the celebration of diversity.

    • June 17th 2017 @ 7:19am
      mad mick said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      All pacific island players should play for their country of birth. There should be no grooming in Aus or France or NZ etc.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 7:30am
        Gurudoright said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        Mad Mick, yes I can’t wait to see Stephen Moore turning out for Saudi Arabia either

        • Roar Rookie

          June 17th 2017 @ 8:36am
          eeds said | June 17th 2017 @ 8:36am | ! Report

          This is probably my favorite comment I’ve read here

        • June 18th 2017 @ 12:46am
          mad mick said | June 18th 2017 @ 12:46am | ! Report

          I didn’t realize he was a pacific Islander

      • June 17th 2017 @ 7:30am
        Fionn said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

        What about ones who move here and become citizens?

        What about the ones who move here when they’re babies or children or kids and identify first and foremost with Australia?

      • Roar Guru

        June 17th 2017 @ 7:34am
        taylorman said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

        So Quade, CL, Skelton Mumm etc should just not play test rugby at all?

        • June 17th 2017 @ 8:20am
          Chaz said | June 17th 2017 @ 8:20am | ! Report

          Exactly. The Vunipolas, Fekitoa, Dylan Hartley, Eto Nabuli, etc etc ( as well as the names you mention) have all contributed significantly to their adopted countries and should be celebrated, as this article rightly does so.

          • June 17th 2017 @ 10:37am
            Akari said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:37am | ! Report


          • June 18th 2017 @ 12:30pm
            Bakkies said | June 18th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            Hartley qualified through heritage and despite his accent I believe he arrived in England while in school

        • June 17th 2017 @ 10:03am
          Charlie Turner said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          Considering the minimum wage in Fiji, Tonga and Samoa is less than $1.20 US/hr its hardly surprising rugby players seek opportunities in other countries. I’m always amazed by people suggesting Pacific Island rugby player are mercenaries for hire as they provide a better life for their families. The average international player repatriates a significant portion of his salary to support family. The PI unions will never be in a financial position to retain their talent.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 11:13am
        Highlander said | June 17th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Would leave the Samoan side rather short of cattle, 11 of that side last night are NZ born

      • June 17th 2017 @ 4:22pm
        Whakaata said | June 17th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

        Samoa would have been far worse than they were last night if players had to play for countries of their birth.
        Over half of their squad were born in NZ and one in Australia.

      • June 18th 2017 @ 1:14am
        Jeff dustby said | June 18th 2017 @ 1:14am | ! Report

        Samoa wouldn’t have a side since they were all born in nz

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