Argentine Muller considers USA switch for World Cup 'dream'
PREVIEW: Brive’s Argentine wing Axel Muller said this week he wants to benefit from a recent eligibility rule change to be able to represent the United States at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
In November, World Rugby adapted their regulations allowing players to feature for two countries if they claim a credible national link such as place of birth, family connection or cumulative residency.
Muller, 28, played for Argentina’s sevens side at the 2016 Olympics but spent a decade of his childhood in Arizona.
“A dream I’ve had since I was small and that I’ve known rugby has been to play a World Cup,” Muller told AFP on Wednesday.
“Having lived 10 years there, I feel as much Argentine as I do American.
“I have dual-nationality. If the rule is there I have the right to use it to play for the United States,” he added.
After losing in the quarter-finals to eventual silver medallists Great Britain in Rio, Muller chose to sign a contract with French club Toulon over continuing to play the shorter form of the game for Argentina.
In the five years since he has scored 20 tries in 100 club appearances for Toulon, Oyonnax and now Brive but claims the Argentinian Rugby Federation have blocked him from playing for the Pumas.
“I made the decision in my career to prioritise my future,” Muller said.
“The federation didn’t like that I left. Since then, even if I’ve been picked by the coach, the federation haven’t been happy,” he added.
This Saturday, Muller’s focus will be on hosting Top 14 leaders Bordeaux-Begles, in the first round of matches this season to be played in front of reduced crowds, 5 000 for the 16 000-capacity Stade Amedee-Domenech, due to coronavirus restrictions.
The 1997 European champions are two points above the relegation play-off spot after last weekend’s defeat at Pau but have lost just once at home this season.
“I think it’s important that we can have the maximum amount of supporters behind us,” Muller said.
“We’re in a period that’s a little bit delicate for the club and with Covid. We have to remain tight, we’re playing for our future,” he added.
Elsewhere, Fiji wing Waisea Nayacalevu takes Stade Francais to Castres with the 31-year-old confirming this week he was unvaccinated.
Nayacalevu could be blocked from playing after January 15 if the French upper house passes a bill requiring a full course of vaccination to enjoy basic parts of life, such as entering sporting stadia.
“I choose not to take the vaccine because I don’t believe in that stuff,” he told AFP on Wednesday
“What’s happening all around the world, even if you’re vaccinated, you can still get Covid and pass it on.
“That’s the worst case scenario for me, then I’ll have to take the vaccine, if the government agrees to that and the law is changed I’ll have to take the vaccine. That’s the last option in my head,” he added.
Fixtures (kick-offs GMT)
Saturday, Januray 8
Castres v Stade Francais (14.00)
Biarritz v Perpignan (16.00)
Brive v Bordeaux-Begles (16.00)
Lyon v Pau (16.00),
Racing 92 v Clermont (20.05)
Sunday, January 9
Toulon v La Rochelle (17.00)
Toulouse v Montpellier (20.05)