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The code has welcomed the pre-emptive strike from the New Zealand Rugby Union, which has declared its willingness to welcome rugby league players back into the All Blacks, writes Dave Hadfield.

"We are comfortable with that decision," a Rugby League spokesman said. "We have always taken the stance that any player should be able to play the game of his choice, as long as he fulfils his contractual obligations to his rugby league club."

The chairman of Wigan, Jack Robinson, whose signings from the All Blacks include Va'aiga Tuigamala, was equally comfortable with the prospect of a player returning to rugby union at the end of his league contract.

Robinson expects an answer within the week from the Western Samoan rugby union forward, reported in New Zealand to be Shem Tatupu, to whom Wigan have made an offer.

The League has denied approaching Ian Roberts, the London-born Australian forward, about his availability to play for England in the Halifax Centenary World Cup next month. "There is no way we would consider Ian Roberts to play for England," said the League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay. "We are totally unaware of any England official having made an approach."