Super Rugby Pacific: Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava cleared to play for All Blacks

Highlanders halfback Folau Fakatava has been cleared to play for the All Blacks, after New Zealand Rugby's application to World Rugby was approved.

Fakatava was previously eligible to play for the All Blacks, but a new five-year residential rule introduced by World Rugby this year, increased from just three years, meant he was unavailable for selection.

"New Zealand Rugby has had confirmation from World Rugby that Folau Fakatava's application for eligibility to represent New Zealand in rugby has been approved," said New Zealand Rugby professional rugby and performance general manager Chris Lendrum.

"His approval confirms he is eligible for selection for New Zealand’s national teams in 2022 and beyond."

The 22-year-old moved to New Zealand from Tonga six years ago and remains eligible for his native nation should he be picked.

But Fakatava has previously stated his sight is firmly on the black jersey, should selectors come calling, with the opportunity to play for the All Blacks at test level too hard to ignore.

"The All Blacks are the best in the world for me," Fakatava said in February. "It will be good to have a crack at it.

"[I'll] just keep doing what I'm doing, learning from the best. Hopefully if opportunities come, I'll take it.

"If not, then I'll have to play for Tonga at the World Cup."

The livewire No.9 was one of the stars of the opening rounds of last year's Super Rugby Aoteroa season and had many in tipping him for higher honours, but was dealt a cruel blow, after suffering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Join us at 3:35pm (NZ time) Sunday for live updates of the Highlanders v Waratahs Super Rugby Pacific clash