This argument revolves once more around the prevalent viewpoint that New Zealand rugby caps players to keep them out of the hands of other nations.
However, is this true? Two Cents Rugby has done a fascinating in-depth look at the 35 New Zealand players who have won caps over the past five years to see how things look.
Yes is the clear response. Another loose forward, Cullen Grace, played about three minutes off the bench against Australia in 2020 but has yet to return. In one Test against Japan, fly-half Brett Cameron managed nine minutes.
Josh Ioane, Gareth Evans, Peter-Umaga Jensen, and Aidan Ross are among the other single Test players. Even though they are not in the mix, the majority of these players are still playing Super Rugby, making them potentially eligible for the All Blacks in the future. Since Cameron and Proctor have since left New Zealand, they will only make one final All Blacks appearance.
Props have been the most successful players to make the All Blacks after making their debut. George Bower, Tyrel Lomax, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, and others all have cap hits of 20 or more. With his 21 caps, we can include Samisoni Taukei’aho on the list if we include hooker.
It’s interesting to note that all of these front-rowers were eligible to play for other nations; however, some of them had declined call-ups in favor of pursuing the black jersey. Tu’inukuafe, Ta’avao and Arbor, all New Zealand conceived however had family associations abroad. Lomax was brought into the world in Australia, with a previous Kiwis association prop father and, surprisingly, played U20s in green and gold. Tau’keiaho was the most controversial at times because he came to New Zealand as a teenager on a rugby scholarship, decided to play for the All Blacks, and has since become a regular starter.
Dalton Papali’i and Hoskins Sotutu have also done this. Injuries have prevented Luke Jacobson and Ethan Blackadder from continuing in the black. Grace and Evans, previously mentioned, each received only one cap. Jackson Hemopo, a lock/loose forward, won five caps before accepting a job offer in Japan.
In the Fijian Sun, Sowakula’s pursuit of an All Blacks spot was described as an “uphill battle” against players like Ardie Savea and others prior to his selection.
However, it also highlighted Fiji’s own depth in the loose.
Simon Raiwalui, the General Manager of High-Performance for Fiji Rugby, made the following social media post after Sowakula was dropped from the All Blacks team: This is not a form of poaching or hoarding; rather, players relocate to a different nation and take advantage of new opportunities. Due to their depth and quality, many players only receive a few caps for ABs.
After two Tests, was it difficult for Sowakula to be dropped? Of course, yes. Is he the All Blacks’ first player to receive the raw end of a selection choice? No, and neither will he be the last.
I don’t believe the New Zealand selectors are villains with moustaches who keep players out of the hands of other nations, and it’s possible that the All Blacks camp’s coaching setup change didn’t help either.
He will still be eligible to play for New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup, but he will most likely join the ranks of players who have never won more than a few caps.
Nevertheless, Clermont are acquiring an outstanding player.
The Wales star gives Warren Gatland a boost for the Six Nations and Gerwyn Price says he plans to return to rugby.