Manu Samoa boss sets sights on one-test All Blacks star Josh Ioane
The game’s global governing body voted on Wednesday to allow players capped by one nation to switch international allegiance to play for a different country that they’re qualified for through birthright, provided they stand down from test rugby for three years.
The change in ruling has opened the door for numerous players of Samoan and Tongan descent who have played for other international sides, namely the All Blacks and Wallabies, to turn out for their countries of heritage.
Since news broke of World Rugby’s law change, Mapusua has wasted little time in outlining which players he is keen on, as he told Stuff that Ioane, who is of Samoan and Maori background, is one player he has on his hit list.
That means that, if he isn’t selected to play for the All Blacks in their July test series against Ireland or in next year’s Rugby Championship, he will become eligible to play for Samoa by virtue of having not played test rugby for three years.
“You’ve got guys like Josh Ioane, who have played one test for the All Blacks, Josh has been playing some awesome footy at the moment,” Mapusua, the former Manu Samoa midfielder, told Stuff on Thursday.
“It’s exciting to possibly be able call on that calibre of player.
“You’ve also got your up-and-coming players, the likes of D’Angelo Leuila, who had an awesome NPC [for Waikato], and just being able to have that depth and competition for positions will strengthen the team.
“It hasn’t always been the case for Manu Samoa, but now we’ve got options and this genuine competition, and healthy competition. It can only be a good thing.”
Other high-profile players who could switch allegiance to play for Samoa in time for the 2023 World Cup include ex-All Blacks Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Lima Sopoaga, Victor Vito, Steven Luatua, Charlie Faumuina and Jeff Toomaga-Allen.
Tonga are also set to gain plenty from the overhauled laws as they will be able to call on the likes of Charles Piutau, Israel Folau, Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman, Vaea Fifita, George Moala, Atu Moli and Augustine Pulu for the next World Cup.
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