Rugby: New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson urges NZ Rugby to keep an open mind over selecting overseas-based players

New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson has again hinted he'd like to see changes to NZ Rugby's domestic-based selection policy.

Players based outside New Zealand are currently ineligible to represent the national team, unless a sabbatical clause has been written into their contract.

Aimed at preserving the integrity of Super Rugby, the rule can be seen as outdated in rugby's global context.

Scott Robertson.
Scott Robertson. Photo credit: Photosport

Now officially All Blacks head coach, with a 22-strong group of players who travelled to last year's World Cup assembled in Auckland, Robertson has urged NZ Rugby's policymakers to be "open minded" over how selections are made.

"What I've talked and presented to the board, the CEOs of Super Rugby, the PUs [provincial unions], of Heartland... is around keeping an open mind in that space," he said. "That's what I've asked for.  

"I've not asked 'Can I please have someone come and play for us?', but keep an open mind where the game is at the moment. It's moving quite quickly, as we know.

"There's a lot [going on] on and off field, with players and decisions and contracting. I want to be a step ahead of it, so keep an open mind."

Only one other nation - England - refuses to select players based outside their nation. On the other hand, South Africa defended the Rugby World Cup last year with players based at home, Europe and Japan.

Australia have implemented what has become known as the 'Giteau Law', where players who met certain criteria are able to continue to play tests while based overseas.

Currently on sabbatical in Japan, All Blacks captain Sam Cane has outlined his thoughts on selecting overseas-based players, citing South Africa's success as an example New Zealand could follow, but NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson has told Newshub the rules will not change any time soon.  

In April 2023, Robertson said he'd be open to having "conversations" about future selection policies, notably around first-five Richie Mo'unga.

After seven Super Rugby titles together at the Crusaders, Robertson and Mo'unga are currently unable to replicate their relationship at test level.

Instead, Mo'unga has signed a three-year deal to play in Japan with Toyota Brave Lupus to end his chances of continuing as an All Black - a decision he says he's made peace with.

He is one of several key All Blacks not returning from last year's World Cup, with Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and Shannon Frizell playing in Japan, while Sam Whitelock has moved to France to join brother Luke at Pau.

That player drain has seen the All Blacks lose hundreds of caps worth of experience, as they begin the road to the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia.