8 Aug 2008

Foreign players likely for Australian Super 14 sides

12:19 pm on 8 August 2008

The Australian Rugby Union has agreed in principle to a new rule that will allow its Super 14 sides to sign overseas stars as early as next season.

At present, Western Force, Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies and New South Wales Waratahs must select players who are eligible for Wallabies selection.

ARU chairman Peter McGrath says Super Rugby level is moving towards transformation and allowing foreign players to be involved with Australian teams is part of that evolutionary process.

The ARU is consulting with Super 14 member unions, players' unions and national coach Robbie Deans, before making a final submission on 5th September.

That proposal will, inevitably, include the number of foreign players a province is permitted to recruit.

New Zealand have lost some of their biggest names in recent years with the likes of Luke McAllister, Carl Hayman, Aaron Mauger, Chris Jack, Byron Kelleher and Doug Howlett among those to join English, French and Irish clubs.

However, NZRU CE Steve Tew says they want the most commerically attractive competition, and the goal is to retain the best talent.

But he adds it's hard to compete against the richer French and English clubs.

In mid-July, it was announced that the Super 14 club competition itself is set to expand its play-offs from four to six - and that the Tri-Nations is looking to bring Argentina into the fold in the future.