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'I would always be interested in Ngani'

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Mark Tantrum/Getty Images)

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While a return to New Zealand could eventually be on the cards for Ngani Laumape, Hurricanes fans shouldn’t start counting their chickens just yet.

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Despite numerous sightings of Ngani Laumape back in his homeland, the barnstorming former All Blacks midfielder still has time to run on his contract in France.

“Ngani Laumape is training with us at the moment,” Stade Francais owner Hans Peter-Wild told Midi Olymique. “But his family is having a little trouble adjusting to this huge city that is Paris and we have therefore recently studied the possibility of freeing the player.”

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The 29-year-old, at his best, was an unstoppable force in the Hurricanes midfield and after knocking on the All Blacks selectors’ doors for a number of seasons without every regularly cracking the match-day 23, made the decision to head offshore and cash in on his huge appeal.

Laumape hasn’t necessarily lived up to expectations in Paris, however, but would undoubtedly be welcomed back to Wellington with open arms, should he and his family make the decision to return home.

As one of the most exciting players to grace the Hurricanes in recent years, fans would have course be happy to see Laumape come back into the fold while coach Jason Holland as acknowledged that even though there haven’t been any formal conversations with Laumape about a return to Super Rugby, it’s not out of the realms of possibility.

“I would always be interested in Ngani,” Holland told Stuff this week. “If he was keen to play in New Zealand I would be really interested but I think at this stage, unless something massively changes from NZ Rugby, he will probably be heading offshore at the end of the NPC.

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“Who knows? He’s the sort of No 12 that is pretty vital in rugby these days.”

While Holland’s comments seemed to indicate that Laumape would be sticking around to play for Manawatu in the upcoming provincial competition, the fact that the former All Black has returned to France indicates otherwise.

Laumape has also previously expressed interest in running out for Tonga in the future – a move which is now possible due to World Rugby’s recently changed eligibility laws.

Under the changes, Laumape would have to stand down from international rugby for three years before making the switch to represent Tonga, meaning he won’t be eligible for the ‘Ikale Tahi until the end of 2023.

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Should Laumape still be interested in pursuing that route, he may also consider linking up with New Zealand’s newest Super Rugby franchise, Moana Pasifika, instead of returning to play for the Hurricanes – who have the likes of Peter Umaga-Jensen, Billy Proctor, Bailyn Sullivan and Jordie Barrett to call upon in the midfield.

Whatever develops, any Super Rugby side would undoubtedly be pleased to bring Laumape into their squad, whatever has unfolded in France.

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