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Bluesfan

Joined March 2010

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Yip only two sadly – Grandmother and Mum both born in England but of Irish heritage, so we can only get the UK, which is sad really as we did investigate getting the Irish passport so that our daughters can access the EU.

'Forever grateful': Quade Cooper faces final test of the year as citizenship bid comes to a head

Yip I was surprised when my daughter was born in Sydney and when I considered applying on her behalf – saw the requirements – criminal record etc and waived it.

She will have to do with having a UK and NZ passport…

'Forever grateful': Quade Cooper faces final test of the year as citizenship bid comes to a head

I think my point is that NZ has pretty decent standards and abilities when it comes to growing Rugby players and their skill base.

That’s notwithstanding that of course Players when they depart off-shore can then grow their skill set or probably more importantly gain maturity.

Moving from an if anything insular country (in both rugby and world sense) to a country like Ireland, which is next to 300 odd million people/mutiple cultures is always going to grow you as a person.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

“Ireland do not need them at this stage” – well guess having 20% of your run on players as “project players” vs AB’s indicates otherwise and even better – don’t need them but they played at 9 and 12 – two key play making positions?

Then moving from 3 to 5 years is huge, means if you pull in a professional player at 25, he is only available for your national team at 30 – that’s 5 years of paying wages where you pray or hope he does not lose form or suffer an injury – or god forbid a Fench team with deep pockets comes along and buys out his contract.

So when Ireland look to buy in their next “project player” – well that 5 year period starts to ensure you are either buying them in very young and taking a massive punt or you are buying a player circa mid 20’s, who by the end of the 5 year period has potentially had his best years – so that move by an extra couple of years is massive.

In regards the slightly strange comment that Ireland have somehow made James Lowe, well reality was that he was a Tasman, Chiefs and Maori AB player – that’s 6 years a professional player in NZ system vs 3 in Ireland and that’s 6 years playing for elite teams in NZ one step below the AB’s.

So obviously the NZ rugby system is very poor as you can see from the historical results which really indicate we have problems developing players to be their best……

Interesting comment and I guess which really is reflective of the ethos of professional rugby and where rugby have moved to over the last 10 odd years is “why should Ireland not reap the benefits of the work put in at Leinster?”

Maybe because he is not Irish….

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Maybe – but consider the commerical implications for having super competitive Tongan and Samoan sides.

Eden Park will be filled out (Sold out would be my guess) and effectively these teams could be introduced into the RC and they won’t be easybeats etc.

That can only mean increased $$ for NZ Rugby in regards TV rights, sponsorship and Crowd monies and importantly will allow us to retain more our players.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

As I said above, I don’t think any AB’s will pick playing for Tonga/Samoa whilst playing in NZ, it will only happen once they move off-shore. We might however have mid to low tier players who will never play for the AB’s, playing in NZ but being available for PI – which is what is happening currently especially at ITM cup level.

In regards NZ filling teams with foreigners, let’s face it not very likely given restricted dollars NZ has, however if the odd individual player (like Himeno for Highlanders last year) wants to come over – get them in, can only build the commerical appeal of the comp and expose NZ players to other and different players.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Herring and Hansen get into the Irish system via grandparent rule – so under the rules that’s fine.

But again Lowe, GP and Aki – well Ireland won’t be seeing many more of those, unless they have great patience, as they qualified via 3 year route – which has now turned into 5 years.

So the question is mute in large parts – that stream of decent level professional players that Ireland have tapped via Residency route will or has being turned off.

And the only question now is that without being able to gain access to players developed by other countries and having ability to cover any gaps in their own development progams – will in the coming years, Ireland (and Wales, Scotland) suffer/see a reduction in team performance.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

We are always breeding players for other countries – be it Ireland, Wales, Samoa or Tonga.

Think the reality is that the AB jumper will hold a lot of appeal and will continue to do so, but once they move overseas and as long as the AB’s don’t select off-shore based players, they will then play for one of the Island Nations.

In regards getting rid of Ioane and anyone who picks Tonga, Samoa – question I guess is will it strengthen or weaken Super rugby teams – last thing we can afford currently is to see even more experienced players leave NZ.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Basically booted out of the Highlanders for bad behavior (as I understand) – liked having parties etc.

So his move to the Chiefs is his chance to restart his career in NZ rugby and hopefully move back into the AB frame.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

All fair points – but reality is that they are currently playing for Ireland because currently they are viewed as better over Irish alternatives

When that stream of Sth Hemisphere players dries up, well how hard will the young players you have highlighted have to suceed given competition for the Jersey has lessened?

For instance with Aki being so good – how much harder do the likes of Ringrose and Henshaw have to work to get the jersey?

Remove Aki and their competition is lessened and they don’t have to work so hard – overtime that lessening of the competition for the jersey or that Ireland will have a smaller pool of international quality players to select from, must have an effect I would imagine.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Yip that’s correct – crazy as it seems…

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Think the $$ on offer will mean he will stick with NZ unless he decides to leave NZ for greener fields e.g. Japan or Europe.

Until NZ move to picking playing from off-shore, think any PI heritage player will leap at playing for Samoa or Tonga etc, once they give up their dream re: NZ.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Good to see you understand the new rules.

For each transfer request to play for another country – the World Rugby Regulations Cmte has to give specific approval….

So as much as you wish for, WR is not about to approve players moving between a tier 1 side to another tier 1 side like AB’s to Scotland but rather from a tier 1 nation to tier 2.

Also don’t consider Carbery in any way a Kiwi – he left at circa age 12 and is part of the Irish rugby system and would note I did not include him in any figures.

Then for Aki – guess being born and raised in NZ does not mean he is a Kiwi….

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

3 out of 15 man run on-side for Ireland vs AB’s – that 20% or guess you can utilize the 23 – where it drops down to 13%.

That’s still a decent number of players and noting probably most importantly that in 2 of the positions that imports were playing – 9 and 12, are key playmaking roles.

Again core argument is that they are in the Irish squad because they strengthen the team, otherwise they would not be picked. If they are or were not available – then next level of player down is not going to be as good.

Consider Gibson-Park, Connor Murray WC player now at the end of his career and they have slotted in Gibson-Park whilst awaiting another talented Irish player to come through (Luke McGrath?).

It however helps Ireland immensely when Murray is coming to the end of his career, that they can slot in a Kiwi Import in such a key playmaking role.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Absoutely – they have to do whatever it takes I guess to remain a tier 1 side.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Absoutely – though Kepu and Kata are really Kiwi’s transplanted over to Oz, both are back living in NZ and Kepu played for Counties in the NPC.

Think Kepu was NZ U20 before leaving for Oz for professional contract as nothing offered in NZ and Kata was brought to NZ for a rugby “scholarship”!

When you do consider that tier of NZ and Oz players who are of Tongan/Samoan descent, teams really are tasty.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Don’t think Scotland have to do that, they are already doing it!

Look at Sione Tuipulotu – ex Rebels/Oz U20, Playing in Japan – Scotland found out he had Scottish Grandparents and offered him a contract for Glasgow.

Think Scotland literally have more overseas born players in their squad than Scottish born – all within the rules I guess, though it is a bit bizarre how they recruit for their national team.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Point I would make and it’s key, is that even if the players are 1st or 2nd choice – they are available and the key to international success is depth in your squad.
As you say, look at Ireland – Henshaw is first choice but then have a high quality replacement in Aki.
With the new residency rules, that depth will be tested – so if Henshaw and Aki is or was not unavailable – who would be next for Ireland and would there be a drop off in performance?
Ireland, Scotland and Wales are now in that situation where, when they have gaps in their roster they could potentially fill it out with Sth import, that door is now closing.
So will be interesting to watch Ireland and others in 5 odd years when that available player base disappears/retires and then the big question is if they can retain that same level of play? Personally not to sure many International squads that can lose say 10-20% of your squad and still retain that high level of play.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Where did I say PI players?

I said that the likes of Ireland, Wales and Scotland won’t be able to roll out Sth Hemisphere players based upon residency gained via the old 3 year route (it’s now 5 year residency).

Ireland had 20% of their players on the field vs AB’s who qualified via 3 year residency route – under the new 5 year rule, those players are no longer available. And if you think to the past that also takes out the likes of CJ Stander and J.Payne.

Regards Wales – McNicholl vs AB and previously Parkes and other’s through the year.

Scotland – the Scottish side is more BaBa – with mutiple SA players in at prop, wing, Aussie at 12 in Sam Johnson. In the recent game vs Wallabies they had 6 players out of 23 man squad who were Sth Hemisphere and qualified via residency (and more in squad via Grandparent/parent route) – that’s 25% of their team who would disappear unless they now qualified via residency for another 2 years.

So that stream of players that those 3 teams have being able to call on to build out and strengthen their sides, are now required to have another 2 years of residency.

How many of those professional players will stick in 1 country for 5 years to gain residency requirement to play for a national team – my guess is not many.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Yip, really expect some of these teams to shake up some teams – I mean if look at the Tongan backline if they can get Josh Ioane – their backline will be WC, though again questions around the tight 5.

For Samoa, at 10 they can have Lima Sopoaga to direct a team just full of talent and even if a bit old could bring in the likes of Afoa and Charlie Fauminuia in the front row.

As a Kiwi fan, likes of Samoa/Tonga will become 2nd team to support really – reality is that both teams will be full of NZ born players and so effectively be like an AB “B” side, so tough when playing the AB’s – but when going against the likes of the Nth side easy to support.

Hopefully they get the players that they want, though I would expect them only to be able to roll out full strength sides in the WC year.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

Likes of Ireland, Wales and Scotland should be very worried, with the change of residency rules moving from 3 to 5 years and suddenly ability of Islands being able to select some extremely good players – over time would expect the likes of Tonga and Samoa to start to pick up some notable wins, though still have to question if they will have the tight 5 to beat the best.

When you consider some of the AB’s issues you do wonder overtime if we should select off-shore based players however NZRFU will fight that tooth and nail, however given strength of the Nth and the continued weakening of our playing base, how long can we continue with this strategy?

NZ rugby is effectively a nursery for mutiple international teams and when you look at the recent series when we probably had 5-6 players representing the likes of Ireland and Wales, hopefully with these rule changes (both residency and ability to represent mutiple sides) International rugby in the coming years will get very interesting, with some tier 1 sides being forced to move away from being able to select players who have resided in their country for 3 years (not many professional players will reside in 1 country for 5 years) and tier 2 sides suddenly becoming extremely competitive.

'Still at All Blacks level': Israel Folau grabbed the headlines but 'lethal' teammate has Tonga dreaming

The only reason Lolesio is playing for the Wallabies is because their is no experienced 10 in any of the Oz super sides (bar O’Connor) and prior to this season Oz effectively tried/attempted to only select Oz based players bar exceptional circumstances.

If Oz sides had not being gutted by off shore recruitment then even at Super Level Lolesio would probably be riding the pine and learning his trade, as he would have if this was circa 2010.

However due to the lack of any depth in Oz Super (and NZ sides I would note) at playmaking level, he and others have being fast tracked into both playing at Super Level and then International level way before they are ready.

Not his fault, just the reality that younger and younger players in both NZ and Oz Super sides are being fast tracked as that middle tier of experienced players have departed for Japan and the Nth.

Numbers speak to just how hard Rennie is working to find Wallabies' way forward

Think once Oz can get all the players on the field at the same time – Oz, European and Japan based and then tie that in to the next generation coming and feeding through McDermott, Nick Frost etc then Oz will have a very very capable pack and effective backline.

Big issue is however 10 – Big quesiton is can Cooper make it through (both physically and level of his game) because what we have seen from this season, is bar Cooper big gap down to O’Connor and then a plunge down to Lolesio etc.

And if history tells us anything, unless you have a WC ten very hard for any team to perform at a meaningful level etc.

However have to say with DR at the helm, Oz clearly have a good coach working towards a plan – and think his plan will ensure a very competitive Wallabies team at the 2023 WC.

Numbers speak to just how hard Rennie is working to find Wallabies' way forward

PI sides like Samoa and Tonga are going to roll some serious teams.

Probably not during between the WC, but in WC year and when they can get all their squad together, well you will be a brave man to roll out your B side to face.

Great for a Kiwi fan, effectively having 3 teams (AB, Tonga and Samoa) to support given ex AB’s in the teams and that effectively majority of the team will be NZ born.

Do wonder over time however if this may force NZ to start picking from off-shore, because when we see Piatutu, Luatua and Feikatoa playing on International stage again – maybe make them realize that for some of the AB weaknesses their are AB’s who could fill those slots/issues.

Why it's not all doom and gloom for the Wallabies

The likes of Tonga and Samoa at the WC will be very competitive beasts and will roll some of the top teams.

Some of the Nth Hemisphere teams will be a bit worried, with the change in residency requirement moving out to 5 years, they won’t be able to roll out Sth Hemisphere recruits and will then be facing what in large part will be top quality international sides – stacked full of AB’s and Wallabies.

'I'm sure there'll be controversy': Kefu reveals Israel Folau's Test plans after World Rugby rule change

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