Rugby: International eligibility change celebrated as career gamechanger for Pacific players

The current crop of All Blacks are packed with stars with Pacific links, but they've had to make a choice of which jersey to wear.

Now, they don't have to.

“I think it's an opportunity for those who can look at this as a genuine pathway,” says one-test All Black Kevin Senio, now rugby director for the new Moana Pasifika Super Rugby franchise.

This pathway may now see them wearing a different jersey, after changes to World Rugby's eligibility laws, allowing international players to transfer once from one nation to another after a three year stand-down. 

But how the change affect New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks.

Now that Pacific players can transfer their allegiance more readily, one leading agent believes All Blacks may head overseas earlier than they previously have.

“It does open the possibility that someone who might be 27 or 28, and played a couple of World Cups, decides ‘I could try to push on and get another World Cup, or do I want to play for Samoa or Tonga or Fiji or whoever it might be’,” says Simon Porter.

NZ Rugby only sees the change as a good thing.

“We don't see any major detrimental impacts to New Zealand at all,” says NZR professional rugby director Chris Lendrum. “If anything, it's going to enhance rugby here.”

Current loose forward Ardie Savea is among those who could make the switch.

“The potential for Ardie to do both things in the space of a career is pretty exciting,” insists Lendrum.

Porter agrees.

“There's plenty of carrots at home and this is just another carrot that if guys are lucky enough, they can eat, I suppose.”

It could end up being a huge feast.