‘I don’t think we could survive’ – All Blacks legend Kieran Read weighs into NZR eligibility laws debate

Colin Newboult
Ex-All Black Kieran Read following the 2019 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final.

Ex-All Black Kieran Read following the 2019 Rugby World Cup Bronze Final.

Former All Blacks captain Kieran Read disagrees with the current skipper Sam Cane that New Zealand Rugby should alter their overseas policy.

Currently players plying their trade in foreign countries are unable to be called up to Scott Robertson’ s side.

Cane is one of those individuals having agreed a short-term deal with Tokyo Sungoliath for the 2023/24 Japan Rugby League One season.

Back in time for 2024 Test season

Although the 31-year-old will return in time for the 2024 international campaign, resulting in him not missing any Test matches, his decision over the length of contract at Sungoliath might have been different had he been available for the All Blacks.

At the flanker’s unveiling at his new club, Cane revealed that he wanted the governing body to review their eligibility policy going forward.

That is at odds with Read’s view, who provided a stark warning to the NZR should they decide to take the current All Blacks skipper’s advice.

“From my point of view, I don’t think New Zealand Rugby, the All Blacks or anyone could survive if we end up going down that route, just yet,” the 38-year-old told AM.

“We need our guys playing in New Zealand. We need a strong competition that’s getting fans along to games, getting them engaged, keeping them engaged here in New Zealand.

“We can’t be doing that if we’re off playing around the world.”

South Africa’s policy

Cane, who was sitting alongside two-time Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe in his press conference on Tuesday, used South Africa’s example as what could be achieved.

They currently select their players from all over the world, including several who were featuring in Japan prior to the World Cup.

“The seasons don’t quite align. We’ve seen in South Africa, although it can work for them in some ways, they end up playing literally all year round because there’s no break between the international and club season,” Read added.

“I don’t see it happening right now, I don’t think it needs to.

“Certainly, the opportunities to have sabbaticals and stuff is going to keep the guys in New Zealand a bit longer, I hope.”

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