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'Things need to change': NZ star wants to follow in Boks' footsteps

SPOTLIGHT: Star loose forward Ardie Savea believes New Zealand Rugby (NZR) should consider changing their eligibility rules for the All Blacks.

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The 30-year-old says New Zealand is at risk of falling behind other leading nations as Rugby Union continues to “evolve”.

Under NZR’s current rules, only domestic-based players can represent the All Blacks.

Savea is currently playing for Kobe Steelers in Japan Rugby League One on a six-month contract. However, he confirmed to media recently that he will be available for All Black selection in June once his contract with the Steelers is over.

It was all part of a clause in the four-year contract extension he signed with NZ Rugby back in 2021.

However, other stars in Europe or Japan with long-term contracts with their clubs are not as fortunate.

Savea wants NZR officials to follow in SA Rugby’s footsteps and allow overseas-based players to play for the national team.

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“If there is a country that has proven that it works, it is South Africa,” said Savea.

“The majority of their team is playing overseas and they came together and won a World Cup.

“I don’t think it is going to change drastically, but something needs to evolve and grow in this space.

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“Whatever that looks like, I am not too sure.

“I think things need to change, but I know it won’t change overnight. It needs to progressively change.”

Savea says “innovation” will be key as the All Blacks and New Zealand Rugby enter a new cycle with Scott Robertson as the new coach.

“You know times are changing, things are moving fast. The world is moving and everything is moving,” said Savea.

“What worked five, 10 or 15 years ago, maybe can’t work now.

“I think we just got to be innovative and smart around what we are doing.

“What that looks like, I have no idea. It’s out of my expertise.

“We need something and maybe it is the new coaching group that is coming in and bringing fresh ideas.

“I am just speaking off the top of my head, but I do think things need to change and evolve. Whether that is instantly or over time.”

@rugby365com

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