Ex-All Black Tuitavake keen to play for Tonga
August 4, 2014
Anthony Tuitavake (left) could play for Tonga in the 2015 Rugby World Cup © Getty Images
Anthony Tuitavake has expressed his interest in using the IRB loophole that will allow him to play for Tonga despite having previously run out for the All Blacks.
Tuitavake has six caps for New Zealand but the last of these came in 2008. With the inclusion of Sevens at the 2016 Olympics, rules state that a player can represent a nation as long as they hold that nation's passport. According to the IRB Handbook, Regulation 8, any player who has represented a national team but has a passport for a second nation, can switch teams during the 2014-2015 IRB Sevens World Series if there has been an 18-month period since their last national appearance.
A player must apply first to switch allegiances and must be approved before and then take the field for their new nation in next season's World Series, which doubles as Olympic qualification. Once a player has made his debut for a new team in an Olympic event they become eligible for selection for any form of the game in his new country.
Tuitavake holds a Tongan passport and he revealed there have been discussions between some of his fellow ex-All Blacks about using this loophole.
"From a personal point of view I would have actually preferred that this happen sooner. I was born in New Zealand and I dreamed of becoming an All Black," he told Rugbyrama. "I achieved that dream but unfortunately now it's behind me. However the chance to take part in a World Cup and take on the best teams in the world is now a possibility.
"We're talking about it between the expatriates, with Sitaleki Timani and Lifemi Mafi at Perpignan. It would be an opportunity to honour my family, my ancestors, to share our experience and help our country of origin to grow. It's about giving something back after everything we have gained from rugby."
Tuitavake added his "first priority is with Montpellier, my employer, and I want to win the Top 14. After that we'll see".
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