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19 players who could make a Test eligibility switch

By Ian Cameron
Sebastian Vahaamahina. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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World Rugby’s new eligibility laws mean that a number of high-profile players could have the opportunity to play for a different country from which they were first capped – both immediately and in coming years.

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According to the new regulations, players will meet transfer qualification criteria by standing down from Test rugby for three years and must either be born in the country they wish to represent or have a parent or grandparent born there.

It could open the door for a slew of people to change allegiances. Here we look at 19 players who could switch, although some are very much more likely than others to do so.

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Guess the celebrity Rose | Karen Carney | England Rugby

SEBASTIEN VAHAAMAHINA
Hasn’t played for France since his red card elbow at the Rugby World Cup. The giant second row could feature for New Caledonia in 2022, although the small island nation have only played 20 international matches since first partaking in the sport in the 1960s.

TAQELE NAIYARAVORO
Won a couple of caps for Australia back in 2015 but could switch back to his native Fiji, who he has represented in Rugby League.

LUKE MCGRATH
Although he’s still involved in Ireland, McGrath could technically play for Canada immediately, having not played for the men in green since 2018. Highly unlikely of course.

Luke McGrath
Luke McGrath in action against New Zealand.
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CHARLES PIUTAU
Maybe the most talked-about of potential switchers, Piutau has made it clear that he would play for Tonga given the opportunity. One of the best-paid players in the world, Piutau is eager to play alongside brother Siale, the Tongan skipper.

ISRAEL FOLAU
Folau, who hasn’t played for the Wallabies since late 2018, could immediately make the switch to Tonga. Although born in Australia, his parents hail from the archipelago.

BYRON MCGUIGAN
The Scotland winger, who hasn’t featured internationally since 2019, will be eligible to play for Namibia (where he was born) in late 2022.

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JULIAN SAVEA
The iconic All Black hasn’t played for the All Blacks since 2017 and the Wellington-born winger could theoretically play for Samoa.

GEORGE MOALA
The former All Blacks centre now plays his rugby in Europe but could switch to Tonga, having not featured for New Zealand since 2016.

GEORGE KRUIS
Former England second-row Kruis could eventually play for Canada through his Canadian father, although he’d have to wait until March, 2023.

JORDI MURPHY
Born in Spain, Murphy hasn’t played for Ireland since the 2019 Rugby World Cup and would come on line so to speak in 2022 as a result.

VAEA FIFITA
After an incredibly bright start to his Test career, Fifita failed to make Steven Hansen’s 2019 Rugby World Cup and could potentially play for Tonga in the summer of 2022.

MORGAN PARRA
A left-field one, but the French great Morgan Parra could technically play for Portugal, the country of his father’s birth. The 33-year-old hasn’t played for France since 2018.

DENNY SOLOMONA
The Sale Sharks wing could play for Samoa having not added to his five caps for England since 2017.

STEVEN LUATUA
The Bristol Bears star could play for Samoa but it seems unlikely, with the No.8 previously saying: “I have Samoan heritage but I wouldn’t trade in my time with the All Blacks for that at the moment.”

DON ARMAND
The Exeter Chiefs flanker won just two caps for England, the last coming in 2018. He was born in Harare and could feature for Zimbabwe.

TEVITA KURIDRANI
The centre hasn’t played for Australia at the RWC in Japan. Currently playing his rugby for the Western Force, he could declare for Fiji in 2022.

HENRY SPEIGHT
Now 33, Speight could technically play for Fiji, having not worn the green and gold of Australia since 2017.

NGANI LAUMAPE
Many think he should still be playing for the All Blacks but he never quite nailed down a starting jersey. Hasn’t played in black since 2019 and could switch to Tonga in 2022.

MALAKAI FEKITOA
Once a staple of the All Blacks midfield, Fekitoa could be line for to don the red of Tonga immediately, should he decide to.

LIMA SOPAGA
The former All Blacks standoff is immediately eligible for Samoa, his last appearance for New Zealand coming against Wales in the 2017 November Tests.

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19 players who could make a Test eligibility switch

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