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'There’s more to it': Former All Black captain doubtful of eligibility rule change

By Ben Smith
Head coach Todd Blackadder of Toshiba Brave Lupus is seen prior to the Japan Rugby League One match between Toshiba Brave Lupus Tokyo and Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on April 21, 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Former All Black captain and current Toshiba Brave Lupus head coach Todd Blackadder does not think NZR will change the eligibility rules for All Black selection anytime soon.

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The Japan-based coach offers a unique perspective with his club having received the services of two new All Blacks, Shannon Frizell and Richie Mo’unga, while another Seta Tamanivalu is a key weapon for the club.

The downstream ramifications of the selection change was of concern to the former Crusader, with all levels of rugby in New Zealand set to be impacted.

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“I don’t think it will happen for a while,” Blackadder told 1News in an interiew.

“It’s really going to come down to governance models. There’s so much that has to be unpicked.”

A change in All Blacks selection eligibility would open up different pathways to becoming an All Black, with younger players potentially jetting offshore early for riches knowing that they can chase the black jersey from elsewhere.

It could have large impacts for the development systems in New Zealand losing young players and therefore losing control over their development and playing identity.

“It’s not so much about the selection policy – it will have a massive impact on grass roots rugby, it will have a massive impact on school rugby and it will have a massive impact on provincial rugby, plus the All Blacks of course.”

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The other concern to Blackadder was how overseas clubs manage the players through a season and through injuries.

The All Blacks will have little oversight or knowledge of that and not have the full picture when it comes to selections.

“There’s also the management of players to consider – there’s more to it than ‘we just want the ability to pick guys from overseas’,” he said.

“When you’re playing around the world… those clubs may not always be willing to release those players and if they were willing to then they would probably be on reduced contracts.”

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