Following on from news that several ex-All Blacks could be set to turn out for the nations of their birth and Steffon Armitage could switch allegiances to France it has now been confirmed that at least seven players are already planning to ‘repatriate themselves’ for the 2015 World Cup.
The new eligibility laws mean that players can represent a second international side providing they haven’t turned out for their original team in the last 18 months and participate for their new nation in sevens qualifying for the 2016 Olympics as long as they hold a passport for that country.
This has led to former All Blacks Anthony Tuitavake and Sam Tuitupou, as well as ex-Wallabies Mark Gerrard and Sitaleki Timani confirming they plan to appear for Tonga in the 2015 World Cup.
In addition to this All Blacks sevens representatives Alando Soakai, Lifeimi Mafi and Roy Kinikinilau have also confirmed they will switch allegiance to Tonga, while Tim Nanai-Williams will make the switch to Samoa.
It appears that they could be followed by a host of other former international stars including the likes of Joe Rokocoko, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Casey Laulau, Chris Masoe and Lelia Masaga.
It has also been hinted that former Wallaby George Smith could be approached by Tonga alongside Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna with Tongan Rugby Chairman Epi Taione stating confirming he is drawing up a hit list.
“So far it’s been very positive from every single player so we’re quite chuffed about the response we’ve had so far,” Taione told tvnz.co.nz. “It’s the biggest positive news in my time as a player and now as an administrator for Tonga.”
“We have been close but rugby is moving and we have to be on our toes and change with the times. These guys being available for us is huge news for Tongan rugby.”
Is it good for the game having smaller international nations recalling their lost stars or is it wrong that players can represent more than one nation?