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Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage

The best single unit in the Wales side is the formidable back row.

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Top five rugby players to represent more than one nation

By Philip Bendon
Malaki Fekitoa

5. John Allan – Scotland & South Africa

Glasgow born Hooker John Allan began his rugby career in South Africa having emigrated with his family at the age of eight, Allan attended Glenwood High School where played in the school’s first XV. His impressive performances for the school earned him a call up to the Natal provincial side with whom he made his senior debut in 1988. Due to South Africa’s international sporting ban as a result of the countries apartheid government, Allan made the move back to the country of his birth. Upon his return to Scotland, Allan played for the Edinburgh Academicals and later for London Scottish. In 1990, Allan played for Scotland “A” against Spain before going on to make his debut for Scotland later that year. He earned nine Scottish Test Caps and played twenty-four times for Scotland between 1990/91 before returning to South Africa as the apartheid regime ended. Returning to his beloved Natal, Allan would go on to win the famous Currie Cup competition three times and would also represent the Springboks thirteen times between 1993 & 1996 scoring six tries. Allan’s nephew is current Harlequins and Italian international fly-half Tommaso Allan.

4. Diego Dominguez – Argentina & Italy

Italian legend Diego Dominguez is widely regarded as one of the greatest goal kickers of all time. Currently he is one of only eight players to have accumulated more than 1000 points in international rugby. At his peak Dominguez was one of the world’s preeminent flyhalves and was a key component to the success of the Italian National team throughout the 1990s. Playing in three Rugby World Cups for the Azzuri in 1991,95 and 99, Dominguez became a mainstay for his adopted nation. His influence was such that Italy managed to record victories over Ireland, Wales, Scotland and France ultimately springboarding their inclusion into what is now the Six Nations. At club level Dominguez played for French giants Stade Francais and played a pivotal role in them becoming French Champions in 1998. This victory kickstarted a run of dominance for the Parisian club who went on to win three more titles with Dominguez pulling the strings. In European Rugby they didn’t quite kick on and in 2001 in a fixture that perhaps encapsulated his career, Dominguez kicked 30 points in Stade Francais’s loss to the Leicester Tigers in that years Heineken Cup final. Throughout his career Dominguez carried his sides through his sheer brilliance and many wonders how his career might have panned out had remained with his home nation of Argentina. By and large Los Pumas have performed significantly better than the Italians on the international stage often peaking at just the right time in each World Cup cycle. Prior to his long career for the Azzuri, Dominguez played two tests for the South Americans. Due to a lack of opportunities at that time he decided to switch his allegiance to the country of his grandmother’s birth.

3. Israel Folau – Australia & Tonga

A controversial figure in the sport’s history, Folau was on track to be one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. Unfortunately, due to his controversial stance on homosexuality he was released from his contract by Rugby Australia. On the field there can be no doubting his talent as he time and again carried the Wallabies to significant victories. Prior to his time in Rugby Union, Folau was one of the top talents in Rugby League winning the National Rugby League Premiership Title with the Melbourne Storm in 2007. Folau became the youngest ever NRL player making his debut for the Storm at 17-years-old, he would then go on to become the youngest Australian international at 18-years-old. In his rookie season, Folau broke his teammate Billy Slater’s single season try scoring record by a rookie with 21 tries. After two successful seasons with Melbourne, Folau became a marquee signing for the Brisbane Broncos. His departure came in the wake of the Melbourne Storm’s salary cap scandal where they were found to have cheated the salary cap for multiple seasons. Midway through his second season with the Broncos, Folau made the controversial decision to leave the sport to pursue a lucrative deal with the Australian Football League. His time in AFL would be relatively short lived as he played two seasons for the newly formed Greater Western Sydney club. As his time in the AFL fizzled out, Folau had the option to either return to the NRL or make a transition to Rugby Union. He chose the latter and signed for the New South Wales Waratahs in the Super Rugby tournament. Folau was an instant success in union scoring two tries in his Waratahs debut against the Melbourne Rebels. Over the next six seasons he made 96 appearances for the Tahs before being relieved of his contract following the twitter scandal. Internationally he became almost undroppable for the Wallabies and played 73 test matches scoring 37 tries in the process. Following his dismissal by Rugby Australia, Folau was awarded a reported $3m Australian dollars for unfair dismissal. He would then transition back to Rugby League joining Super League side the Catalan Dragons in France. His time with the Dragons was short lived as he left after one season to return to Union where he joined Japanese side the Shining Arcs. His return to Rugby Union has allowed him to switch his allegiance back to the country of his parent’s birth Tonga. In July 2022 he made his debut for Tonga as he helped them qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

2. Malaki Fekitoa – New Zealand & Tonga

Munster centre Fekitoa is regarded as one of the top centres in the modern game. A physically imposing player with an incredible skill base, Fekitoa’s departure from New Zealand Rugby in 2017 was certainly came as bombshell to the NZRU and All Black fans alike. At the time he was a key component in a very successful Highlanders side who had just won their first Super Rugby title. Three years prior to his departure, Fekitoa had made his All-Blacks debut having waited the required three-year post education residency period. Bursting onto the international scene, Fekitoa played alongside superstars such as Ma’a Nonu, Dan Carter and Aaron Smith, Fekitoa looked set for a long career in the black jersey. Having not initially been selected for the All-Blacks squad to play the British &. Irish Lions, Fekitoa was called into the matchday 23 for the series deciding third test as a replacement for the suspended Sonny-Bill Williams. This would be the last time he would play for the All Blacks having signed a two-year deal with French giants Toulon. Unfortunately for Fekitoa, Toulon were on the wrong side of their best days and after two largely uneventful seasons he left to join English Premiership side Wasps. His impact at Wasps was immediate as they climbed from 8th in 2018/19 to runners up in 2019/20. After three seasons where he has been one of Wasps star players, Fekitoa announced that he was joining Irish powerhouse Munster on a two-year contract. In July 2022 alongside Folau, Fekitoa made his debut for Tonga having completed World Rugby’s amended stand down period which allows players to switch their international allegiance.

1. Michael Jones – Western Samoa & New Zealand

All Blacks legend Jones is widely regarded as one of the best backrow forwards in Rugby history. Donning the black jersey on fifth-five occasions, Jones was known for being an immensely skilful forward who seamlessly linked backs and forwards. At club level, Jones won two Super Rugby titles with the Blues and ten domestic titles with Auckland. Internationally Jones was a key member of the 1987 World Cup winning All Blacks squad. Jones would play for the All Blacks right up until the 1998 season, during that period he would win two Tri-Nations titles and would-be part of the All-Blacks squad that finished third at the 1991 World Cup. Jones would have been selected for the 1995 tournament but for his religious beliefs which would have prohibited from playing games on Sunday. This would therefore have seen him miss both the quarterfinal and semi-finals. Unfortunately for Jones his career was marred by injury and ultimately cost him the opportunity to make significantly more appearances for the All Blacks. When fit he was the presumed first choice due to his incredible consistency. Prior to playing for the All-Blacks, Jones made one appearance for Western Samoa who he qualified for through his mother. Post his playing days, Jones has held several roles including becoming head coach of the Samoan national team who he coached between 2004-07.

Honourable mentions

Graeme & Stephen Bachop – New Zealand – Japan & Samoa

An incredible Rugby family, brothers Graeme and Stephen would represent the All Blacks before going on to represent separate nations. Graeme would go on to play for Japan whilst Stephen would represent Samoa.

Brad Thorn – New Zealand & Australia

Legendary All Black second row Brad Thorn would get New Zealand over their World Cup hoodoo in 2011 playing an integral role in winning the tournament. Prior to representing the black jersey, Thorn was a world class rugby league player representing Australia.

Frank Bunce – Westen Samoa & New Zealand

Hard hitting centre Bunce played four tests for Western Samoa before making fifty-five appearances for the All Blacks. Following his retirement from playing, Bunce coached the Italian national side from 2001-2003.

Desmond Connor – Australia & New Zealand

Connor was a nippy halfback who represented both Australia and New Zealand on the international stage. Interestingly he played twelve tests for each nation and actually captained the Wallabies against the All Blacks in 1958.

Jamie Joseph – New Zealand & Japan
Current Japanese head coach Joseph played for the brave blossoms in 1999 earning nine caps. Before this he had played for both the New Zealand Maori and All Blacks including being part of the 1995 World Cup squad that lost to the Springboks in the final. Since taking over as coach of Japan he has overseen their greatest ever World Cup performance where they finished fifth having beaten powerhouses Scotland and Ireland along the way.

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