Wednesday 18 September 2019

New Zealand media criticise the IRFU's 'cold, calculating and ethically questionable' selection policy

Bundee Aki (centre) will be joined by James Lowe (left) and Jamison Gibson-Park (right) in the Irish ranks in coming seasons
Bundee Aki (centre) will be joined by James Lowe (left) and Jamison Gibson-Park (right) in the Irish ranks in coming seasons
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The prospect of seeing Bundee Aki tearing it up against the All Blacks this weekend has angered the media in his native New Zealand.

After taking on Brad Shields last weekend in Twickenham, the Connacht centre will be the latest Kiwi to line out against the country of his birth.

Aki is one of a number of New Zealanders who has qualified for Ireland in recent years and the likes of Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe will join him in the coming seasons.

Stuff.co.nz describe the situation as 'farcical' while the New Zealand Herald has branded the IRFU's selection policy as 'cold, calculating and ethically questionable'.

Gregor Paul in the New Zealand Herald wrote: "One minute a player is a club teammate, the next he's an international foe and no one it seems can easily get their head around that.

"It's probably because not many players want to confront their true feelings about this because deep down they know it's not quite right.

"They know that at some stage in the past, their new foe stood with them expressing some kind of desire to see the All Blacks smash his adopted country.

"So there is an awkwardness about that – a need to brush that out of history for fear of how destructive the truth could be.

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"Aki makes for a particularly interesting case study as he owes his presence in Ireland's midfield to a rather cold, calculating and ethically questionable recruitment policy by the Irish Rugby Football Union.

"Now that Payne has retired, Aki is the mainstay in the Irish midfield and while this sort of recruitment is entirely within the laws, it is outside the spirit of the game.

"If this strategy persists then the chances are high that the next generation of Ireland's midfield will be watching the test in Dublin this weekend in New Zealand, cheering for the All Blacks and desperately hoping one day to play for them.

"Just as likely is that there will be a young Irishman at Aviva Stadium screaming the house down, oblivious to the fact there is someone on the other side of the world destined to steal his dream in the future.

"No one can believe surely that recruitment of this sort doesn't in some small way damage the integrity of test rugby?

"But of course rugby's code of omerta ensures that the subject is glossed over."

Former New Zealand captain Tana Umaga does not subscribe to this view.

"Every player who leaves and achieves is one that got away," Umaga said.

"But as a coach who wants to see the best for their players, allowing people to live the dream, it makes me proud.

"Whether that is for Ireland or anything, I'm 100pc behind Bundee!"

Independentie has two pairs of tickets to the sold out Ireland vs New Zealand game at the Aviva this Saturday. Enter here

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