Thursday 18 July 2019

NZ Herald heavily criticises the IRFU and slams Jared Payne's Lions inclusion

Jared Payne has faced his native New Zealand in an Irish shirt and may do so again in a Lions short this summer
Jared Payne has faced his native New Zealand in an Irish shirt and may do so again in a Lions short this summer Newsdesk Newsdesk

Jared Payne's inclusion in Warren Gatland's 41-man Lions squad raised a lot of eyebrows in Britain and Ireland, and it didn't go unnoticed in his native New Zealand either.

The fact that overseas players, that have qualified under the three-year residency rule, outnumber the amount of Scots in the squad has caused controversy.

Writing in the NZ Herald, Gregor Paul criticised the selection of Payne, New Zealand-born Ben Te'o and South African-born CJ Stander.

He singled out the nature of Payne's move to Ulster as particularly irksome.

"The debate isn't about whether Jared Payne, Ben Te'o and CJ Stander are good enough to be Lions," he wrote.

"The question is deeper, more fundamental, which is how on earth do they end up playing for the Lions when all three of them, or certainly Payne and Stander, no doubt grew up dreaming about playing against them?

"Take Payne as the example. He was pushing towards the edge of All Blacks' selection in 2010 and 2011.

"He'd consistently impressed at both the Crusaders and Blues, either at wing, fullback or centre and he was probably only a couple of injuries away from making the World Cup squad.

"No one is suggesting he was going to be a regular All Black, but the point is he was targeting that as his goal, right up until Ulster came calling with a swag of cash that saw him head to Ireland.

"The story to this point has no twists - until it is realised that Ulster were supported financially by the Irish Rugby Union in making the payment because the latter could see that Payne would have served his required residency period at about the same time they expected the great Brian O'Driscoll to retire.

"They bought a New Zealander to fill a national jersey and while that is their business to square away with those domestic players trying to make it through the development pathways, it becomes a bigger problem when Payne and others who have converted as so-called project players, make the British and Irish Lions.

"It's one thing for Irish players to miss out on playing for Ireland because of an import, but is it fair that say, Scots, Welsh and English players should miss out on winning a place with the Lions for that same reason?"


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