Pacific players think twice about playing for All Blacks
Tongan rugby coach thinks Pacific players in New Zealand will think twice before trying to make the All Blacks.
The Tonga Rugby coach Mana Otai says Pacific Island players based in New Zealand are thinking more about representing their nations of heritage.
His comments come after Chiefs prop and former All Black training camp member Ben Tameifuna committed to representing Tonga this week.
Otai told Koro Vaka'uta he may not be the last to do such a move, despite eligible Tongan Augustine Pulu being named in the latest extended All Black squad.
MANA OTAI: There's always two ways of looking at things. From my current position as head coach as Tonga, I would love to have his service on board. At the same time if you are looking at this young man and his aspirations, you can't but be happy about his achievements. Every Tongan or every rugby player that grows up in New Zealand or Australia or anywhere else for that matter I'm sure they would love to play for Tonga but I think they would also love to have the honour of representing the All Blacks or the Wallabies for that matter.
KORO VAKA'UTA: You mention aspirations and Tameifuna, he has been training with the All Blacks before. Was it hard to convince him to now put his lot in with Tonga?
MO: You know you can only convince someone so much. I think Ben is a real Tongan at heart and I can only talk about the current situation. He has chosen Tonga, to play for Tonga and for us that is a big acquisition for our team, for Tonga. Ben would also help other possibilities for other players who are still thinking about...I think if you go back ten years ago things were different. We hardly had international games and things like that but now days regardless of who you play for you are bound to get a lot of international games and stuff like that. The other side of the factor is Tongan players or island players are starting to see trends also where island players have been being used for one test and left aside and now they're playing in Europe but love to play. Saimone Taumoepeau is an example, I'm not quite sure if you know him but he had a few tests for the All Blacks and every time we turn up overseas you can't help but see his face and his expression how much he would love to play test rugby or international rugby and it's quite sad for someone of that calibre not to play international rugby anymore because of what had happened. I think this helps other players look at their aspirations. Okay, it's great to play for the All Blacks, what's the possibility of playing until 2019 is it something they can do? They're also looking at that possibility as well and once you play test rugby for one of the island teams you are opening up other doors to play professional rugby overseas and still be able to play test rugby for your country. That's something that some of these guys are also considering as well, looking at current trends. Frank Halai for example, he's been up there now he's not there but who knows he may pick up his form again and play again. Sevens players that have had one game and constantly playing professional rugby out there and they're no longer playing test rugby but I believe they are good enough to play test rugby. It's that sort of things that are starting to be known to island players, especially Tongans anyway, I can only speak for the Tongans, that they are starting to see long term.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: