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Scott Robertson urges NZR to ‘keep an open mind’ about eligibility rules

By Finn Morton
Richie Mo'unga and Coach Scott Robertson of the Crusaders celebrate the win after the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific Final match between the Blues and the Crusaders at Eden Park on June 18, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson has urged New Zealand Rugby to “keep an open mind” about potentially reconsidering their eligibility rules so that overseas players could play Test rugby.

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Robertson rose to fan favourite status as a coach in New Zealand after leading the Crusaders to seven Super Rugby titles in as many years, and he celebrated with an iconic breakdance every single time too.

While the Crusaders’ dynastic period of success should justifiably reflect positively on the rugby genius that ‘Razor’ possesses, it was far from a one-man operation.

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Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga might have elevated himself into the ‘greatest of all time’ debate within Super Rugby after starring in the legendary Crusaders No. 10 jersey during this period.

Mo’unga, 29, took a while to replicate that form within the Test arena, but the playmaker seemed to hit his stride on the road to last year’s Rugby World Cup final at Stade de France.

But, at least for now, Mo’unga is ineligible to play for the All Blacks after inking a three-year deal with Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan. It’s a big loss for New Zealand rugby, but that could change.

Speaking with reporters on Tuesday after assembling a squad of 22 players for a brief All Blacks camp, Robertson revealed how he wants NZR to stay “a step ahead.”

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“What I’ve talked and presented to the board, the CEOs of Super Rugby, the PUs (provincial unions), of Heartland… is around keeping an open mind in that space,” Robertson said.

“That’s what I’ve asked for.

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“I’ve not asked, ‘Can I please have someone come and play for us?’. But keep an open mind (about) where the game is at the moment. It’s moving quite quickly, as we know.

“There’s a lot (going on) on and off field, with players and decisions and contracting.

“I want to be a step ahead of it, so keep an open mind.”

According to the current eligibility rules in New Zealand, players plying their trade for overseas clubs are not available to play for the All Blacks.

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Ardie Savea, Sam Cane and Beauden Barrett – who are all playing in Japan at the moment – are an exception as they have signed deals with NZR that will see them return to New Zealand.

But, in theory, the likes of Shannon Frizell, Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and even Ngani Laumape cannot be called upon by coach Robertson.

“I have got to get in front of a few people, have a few conversations, catch a few eyes, have some chats. I think it’s important we do that, respect for all options,” Robertson added.

“I just want to keep an open mind, so I can select the best players available for the All Blacks.”

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Comments

40 Comments
R
Rugby 162 days ago

unlike some rugby pass pundits like - little pecos, filthy potty mouth Forward Pass and Nickers in a twist I like Rugby and I like factual based discussions not - oh I disagree so I will use silly descriptors to abuse you. I did bite back to shut them up. I am glad they have blocked me. They now block their ears from facts they choose not to see and read. They re-read their own facebook feeds.

Facts
AB’s aka the PACIFIC LIONS top the list of Rugby nations greatest brand worth
AB’s aka the PACIFIC LIONS were the top team for over a decade
AB’s aka the PACIFIC LIONS have a superb ruby system

So don't pick NON NZ born players esp PI, pick your own from your system, pay well and look after player welfare, good luck I wish you well.
But Don't cherry pick poach players. Pick say Ethan Blackadder on the flank, leave Tonga out of it. Pick NZ speed and flair. Leave Fiji out.

IRB if you have not go the guts to pay PI more, then at least tell NZ to pick their own.Global game, not one or two powerhouses.

R
Rugby 162 days ago

FACTS

NZ has the most money, have been ranked no 1 the most and they have a good player base and rugby coaching system.

Yet in RWC cup squad they had many non NZ born players. Why is this? It must stop. I have provided the list elsewhere on this page.

1 Money
RUGBY 10 2023
The report on the most valuable and strongest national rugby team brands
New Zealand Rugby (USD282 million)
England Rugby (USD264 million)
France Rugby (USD159 million)
Ireland Rugby (USD150 million)
Wales Rugby (USD132 million)
South Africa Rugby (USD117 million)

2 Ranking
Ranked No 1 in the world For 509 weeks consecutively from 16 November 2009 to 19 August 2019

3 Famous rugby System
So why on top of all that would the AB's do this ? and importantly the IRB and the rest of the world let them get away with unfairly targeting and making offers to Non NZ born PI players?

Unfair
to
1 The rest of the world
2 The PI nations
3 NZ born players
So yes NZRFU lets talk eligibility.

N
Nickers 163 days ago

My experience on this site has been greatly enhanced by blocking comments from “Rugby” and a handful of others. I can tell by the number of “Hidden Comment” under this article that he is up to his usual tricks. The best thing to do is just block him, then you don’t have to make yourself dumber by reading his comments.

R
Rugby 163 days ago

Robertson, Bula pick me, we can make a real story a real good connection. I will tell you everything that makes me tick, and you can be vulnerable to me and we can check for commonalities and then we can sew themes into team story. Can you get some Fijian in the Haka? and the Anthem maybe a 5th verse? We got good surf In Fiji come over, pick some players.

R
Rugby 163 days ago

Bula Bula Robertson, pick me

R
Rugby 163 days ago

‘keep an open mind’ about eligibility rules!
How about the eligibility rules of Non NZ born players.
Shame , madua, madua
Current 2023 RWC squad.

  1. Samisoni Frank Simpson Taukei'aho - Tongatapu, Tonga
  2. Nepo Eti Laulala - Moto'otua, Samoa
  3. Tyrel Shae Lomax - Canberra, Australia
  4. Aniseto Ofa He Moori Tuʻungafasi - Nukuʻalofa, Tonga
  5. Leicester Ofa Ki Wales Twickenham Fainga'anuku - Nukuʻalofa, Tonga
  6. Emoni Narawa - Suva, Fiji
  7. Finlay Turner Christie - Peebles, Scotland
  8. Shannon Michael Frizell - Folaha, Tonga
What about Sevuloni Lasei Reece - Nadi, Fiji will he makes it back?

Do you think Pita Gus Nacagilevu Sowakula - Lautoka, Fiji can add to his 2 caps? You have ruined his ability to play for Fiji.

J
Jon 163 days ago

Haha Finn, were you the reporter that Razor was rebuking in the presser?🤣

I wouldn’t say Richie was a SR GOAT. How many records did he break? Definitely the game leader of a GOAT team, but yeah, idk if he played to a GOAT level. Certainly in the one aspect of a running playmaker type 10 he did. I highlight reel player (one of my favourites in general).

You need to have better interview questions if you want something juicy out of these things. You get no respect from readers when you quote him as saying “respect for all options” on the eligibility topic, especially after naming ineligible players, when that quote was a response to how he has narrowed down his captain options.

This article also misses what is probably the most relevant quote “as I spoke to you before about this”, which to me, along with some of his other past tense, leads me to believe he is just repeating last years information about what he has put to NZR. It’s a shame, I was hoping for something more this year. Maybe he’s talking about what said he was going to “put” before everyone once he got settled in, those reason’s why he wanted to raise it weren’t that notable. Seemly he’s hinting that NZR ensure it doesn’t turn into another RU, whose teams are falling over with players having to leave and become ineligible for England.

It was a high quality presser from the first AB coach who can really speak in a long time. I don’t know if it was for that reason he went into depth about activities in Japan, but it seemed like they are stepping up their player management game their. Where he said he would be visiting his All Blacks, I would have loved for him to asked them if he was going to visit Richie Mounga (instead of the same asinine “do you want to select Richie” questions 2 extra times) as well!

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Flankly 12 hours ago
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