IRB loophole could see former New Zealand internationals switch allegiance and play for Samoa, Tonga and Fiji
The likes of Anthony Tuitavake and Sam Tuitupou have confirmed that they will switch international side after a change in regulations which will shake up the international stage
International rugby could be about to go through its biggest shake-up for some time after a change in eligibility laws mean a number of ex-New Zealand internationals could soon be playing for the likes of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
With rugby set to arrive at the summer Olympics at Rio 2016, a ruling now means that players can represent a second country providing they hold a passport for that nation and have not played for their current side for at least 18 months.
New Zealand publication tvnz.co.nz is reporting that ex-internationals have already agreed to represent the Pacific Islands at next year’s World Cup, due to be held in England, while more could be eying the switch with 14 months to go until England get the tournament underway against Fiji.
As long as players haven’t represented their country for the past 18 months, they can participate in either the Sevens World Series or a designated Regional Olympic Qualification Tournament, which would then result in them becoming fully eligible for all forms of rugby for that country.
According to ONE News, Names that have already agreed to the turn out for Tonga include former New Zealand internationals Anthony Tuitavake and Sam Tuitupou, while Australian Test players Mark Gerrard and Sitaleki Timani has also given the move the thumbs up.
The All Blacks sevens stars Alando Soakai, Lifeimi Mafi and Roy Kinikinilau will also be part of the switch, while the Waikato Chiefs centre Tim Nanai-Williams, cousin of Sonny Bill Williams, has announced his desire to play for Samoa after being overlooked by the Kiwis.
World Cup winner Isaia Toeava has also been contacted by Samoan officials according to the tvnz.co.nw report, but he is yet to comment on the situation.
Australian great George Smith is also on Tonga’s target list given that his mother hails from the Pacific Island, as is Chief’s prop Ben Tameifuna.
“So far it's been very positive from every single player so we're quite chuffed about the response we've had so far,” said Tongan Rugby Union chairman Epi Taione.
“It's the biggest positive news in my time as a player and now as an administrator for Tonga.
"We have been close but rugby is moving and we have to be on our toes and change with the times.
"These guys being available for us is huge news for Tongan rugby.”
Tuitavake added: “Since hearing about this loophole that the IRB has made, us ex-New Zealand players that are playing abroad are very keen to switch.”
Other potential options for Samoa include leading names Casey Laulala, Chris Masoe, Lelia Masaga and Mose Tuiali'I, while Fiji could look to lure former All Black wingers and cousins Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu into the national team to face the English.
Manchester United's best XI of the season so far: No place for Angel Di Maria or Juan Mata
Which player sells the most shirts in the Premier League?
WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
Chelsea's best XI of the season so far: Petr Cech has been better than Thibaut Courtois
Chelsea's Eden Hazard, Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Manchester City's Jesus Navas are the three best attacking midfielders in Europe in 2015
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 A new (old) cure for MRSA? Revolting recipe from the Dark Ages may be key to defeat infection
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans