Rugby: NZRU ends debate on eligibility

The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) has doused any notion it could go off-shore to strengthen the All Blacks for a World Cup the nation is desperate to win this year.

Former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman was the subject of a report in January claiming the Toulon forward was in secret negotiations with the NZRU for a special three-month World Cup contract.

The NZRU dismissed the report immediately with chief executive Steve Tew describing it as "fanciful".

To allow the 46-test prop, still rated as the best tighthead in the world, to resurrect his All Black career at the Rugby World Cup would have ended the NZRU's policy that only players playing in New Zealand are eligible for All Blacks selection.

With Super rugby kicking off, all eyes are on the fitness and form of first five-eighth Dan Carter as well as those who would serve as his World Cup backup.

None of the players vying to fill Carter's boots should he suffer an injury has put a convincing case for their inclusion in the World Cup squad over the first three rounds of the competition.

With that, former All Black Nick Evans, currently playing in England with the Harlequins, popped up in an English newspaper report suggesting he would be available for the All Blacks if something happened to Carter ahead of the tournament.

Tew said there was unanimous agreement at today's board meeting in Wellington that the "stay and play for an All Blacks jersey" policy would not be changed.

"The board was firmly of the view that, on the balance, this stance taken previously still holds.

"We believe that that final incentive to play your rugby in New Zealand is an important one in terms of our player retention and it is also really important to the future success of the All Blacks to have the best players playing the game in New Zealand as long as possible."




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