Ardie Savea calls for change in All Blacks’ eligibility rules

All Blacks forward Ardie Savea has called on New Zealand Rugby to consider updating the country’s eligibility rules or risk being left behind as the sport continues to evolve.

Savea left New Zealand in December to take up a lucrative one-season contract with Kobe Steelers in the Japan Rugby League One.

World Rugby’s reigning Player of the Year wants New Zealand bosses to reconsider the rule that only allows domestic-based players to be selected for the All Blacks.

New Zealand perform the haka during The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australia Wallabies at Forsyth Barr Stadium on 5 August in Dunedin.

“Times are changing,” Savea told journalists.

“Things are moving fast. What worked five, 10, 15 years ago maybe can’t work now. We’ve just got to be innovative and smart around what we’re doing.

“The country that’s proven that it works, that it helps, is South Africa. The majority of their team’s playing [offshore] and they come together and win the World Cup.

“I don’t think it’s going to change drastically, but I just think that something needs to evolve and grow.”

Players of South Africa celebrate their victory at the Rugby World Cup 2023 at Stade de France on 28 October, 2023.

Many of the South African squad that won the second of back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles in France last year play overseas, with Savea joined in Japan by the likes of Faf de Klerk, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Cheslin Kolbe.

Savea is not the only high-profile New Zealander to have moved away from home, with All Blacks veterans Brodie Retallick and Richie Mo’unga among those contracted to Japan Rugby League One clubs.

Other nations have similar eligibility rules to those in place in New Zealand, but Savea believes the experience gained due to the growing internationalisation of the club game is improving him as a player.

“I think that’s the best thing about being out of New Zealand – I’m playing against guys from South Africa, Pacific Island boys that are from Tonga, Samoa – the Japanese brothers, Aussie brothers,” he said.

“I’m playing against a different variety of players, different styles, which has been refreshing and awesome. Where in New Zealand, you’re just playing against the New Zealand teams and Aussie teams.”

– Reuters

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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