All Black Laumape 'will put hand up' for Tonga
NEWS: All Black Ngani Laumape on Friday became the latest player to express interest in turning out for Tonga, the country of his heritage, following a relaxation in World Rugby player eligibility rules.
From January 2022, a player will now be able to represent another country after a stand-down period of three years.
A player can move to a nation of their birth, of that of their parents’ or grandparents’, but can only switch allegiance once.
Under current regulations, a player is “locked” to the one country they opt to play for, although there is a loophole that allows nationality transfers should a player turn out in Olympic rugby sevens qualifiers.
Laumape, who started off in rugby league with the New Zealand Warriors in the NRL, won 15 caps for the All Blacks between 2017-20.
“I’ll put my hand up for Tonga,” said the New Zealand-born centre who plies his club trade for struggling Stade Francais in the French Top 14.
“It would be a great opportunity to represent my parents’ country. I’m a proud Tongan so if I was picked I would definitely put my foot forwards.
“But it’s still a couple of years away for me and I’m focusing on Stade Francais.”
Laumape, 28, added that he had not yet talked to the Tongan coaching set-up.
“I’m focusing on Stade Francais,” he reiterated. “I want to perform well, that’s what matters the most.”