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Taqele Can’t Wait

Northampton Saints winger wants to play for the Flying Fijians at the 2023 Rugby World Cup. But it will depend on who will be the next World Rugby chairman?
25 Apr 2020 14:45
Taqele Can’t Wait
Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Giant Australia and Northampton wing Taqele Naiyaravoro is the first player to pledge his future to Fiji if a controversial rule allowing players to switch allegiance goes through.

As part of his World Rugby re-election campaign, chairman Sir Bill Beaumont has promised to look at a loophole for the likes of Naiyaravoro and Manu Tuilagi to end Test careers with their Pacific Island homelands.

Sir Bill wants to launch a review of Regulation Eight, which governs international participation and locks players into representing only one country.

Bigger financial rewards can mean that Pacific Island players choose Tier One nations like England or the All Blacks if they qualify through residency.

However, those players often end up on the scrapheap if those bigger countries stop picking them.

“We need to look at a governance review and whether in the modern game, our governance is right,” Sir Bill said.

“I’m very keen on looking at players who for instance may have played for England or New Zealand or whoever, and whether they could go back and play for their country of origin.”

Some have rejected the proposal for being short-termist and patronising, but Naiyaravoro, who has two caps for Australia, said he would love to play at the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

DREAM

“I’m 28 and I’ve still got the best years ahead of me, so the opportunity to play for Fiji would be a dream come true,” he told Sportsmail.

“I have no regrets about playing for Australia. I was pretty young at the time when the opportunity came along and I went for it.

“But Fiji has always been in my heart. It’s where I was born.

“When I left Fiji for Australia, my dream was to play for Fiji. I would 100 per cent commit to Fiji if that opportunity came along.”

Such a policy would also benefit the likes of Tonga and Samoa. Former All Black star Charles Piutau has previously stated his desire to play for Tonga– and Naiyaravoro believes rugby union should look at the success of a similar policy in rugby league.

RESISTANCE

However, Sir Bill is likely to face resistance from other unions if he tries to push through the policy.

“At the Rugby League World Cup, all the guys who didn’t play for Australia or New Zealand went back to Tonga,” said Naiyaravoro.

“Wouldn’t it make it more entertaining if the Pacific Islands had guys like Charles Piutau playing for them? It would bring the competition to life.”

The Yasawa native highlighted that Fiji and Tonga reached the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup and that’s something that’s never happened before.

“There are other guys out there who feel the same way. Guys like Seta Tamanivalu with the All Blacks.”

Votes in the election campaign between Beaumont and Agustin Pichot will be cast on May 12.

Edited by Sereana Salalo

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj



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