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Tongan revolution continues - world's highest paid player in sights for World Cup

Having seemingly taken inspiration from their rugby league cousins, the Tongan rugby union team are looking to acquire the services of a couple of former All Blacks for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

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As reported in the New Zealand Herald, Charles Piutau has confirmed he is keen to represent the country of their heritage, after playing 17 tests for the All Blacks earlier in his career.

Former All Black wing Frank Halai is also being targeted as a possible recruit.

According to Tongan coach and former Wallaby Toutai Kefu:

“I’ve spoken to him [Piutau] a few times and his brother as well – he’s very determined to play for Tonga so we’re very happy about that,” he said, referring Charles’ brother and former Chiefs centre Siale.

Piutau is currently at Ulster and has signed to play at Bristol next season, where he’ll enjoy the status of being the world’s highest paid player – ironically one that cannot play test rugby, given the current All Black eligibility rules that prevent anyone playing offshore from selection.

However, that can change due to loophole in World Rugby’s eligibility rules. The Piutau brothers and Halai could make a switch to the red jersey of Tonga by being selected for the Tongan Sevens side in Olympic qualifying tournaments, or the 2018/19 World Series.

This has already been used by Tim Nanai-Williams, a former All Black Sevens rep, to switch allegiance to Manu Samoa.

“They just have to play two tournaments I think…they just have to be Olympic qualifying tournaments.

“There’s a tournament in the World Cup year [2019] that we still need to find out the minor details of that with Oceania [Rugby], but there’s a tournament that we may be able to qualify them in around June/July of World Cup year.” said Kefu.

The news comes after the Tongan league team managed to acquire the services of NRL superstars Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, who both turned down selection by New Zealand and Australia respectively. They played a huge role in the team upsetting the Kiwis and making the semi finals of the tournament, inspiring a massive wave of support.

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Shaylen 7 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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