All Blacks XV: What it means for Samoa
The Manu Samoa are likely to take a hit thanks to the introduction of the All Blacks XV this week, New Zealand Rugby’s new second-tier representative side.
The All Blacks XV replaces the Junior All Blacks (inactive since 2009) as New Zealand’s designated second team, which means players who represent them have their eligibility captured by New Zealand and could not play for any other nation.
Even though the Junior All Blacks programme was disbanded after the 2009 Pacific Nations Cup, New Zealand Rugby never sought to replace them, or put forward the Maori All Blacks as their designated second team, until now.
Manu Samoa’s pool of players available for selection will almost certainly decrease if those deemed unworthy of making the All Blacks opt to play for the second-side.
Alapati Leiua and Michael Alaalatoa would almost certainly both have been approached to play for the Junior All Blacks had the programme continued, making them unavailable to join the Manu Samoa.
In recent years uncapped internationals Akira Ioane, Jordan Taufua, Asafoa Aumua and Melani Nanai have been in All Blacks training groups and would surely have been tapped to play for a second-tier side, preventing them from playing for Samoa down the track as they are all currently available to do.
In-form Samoan Super Rugby players Solomon Alaimalo, Mark Telea, Stephen Perofeta, Du'Plessis Kirifi and Vince Aso would all figure to be in line to play for the All Blacks XV in 2020, which prevents them from representing Samoa in future.
The All Blacks XV’s first match will be against Fiji in Vancouver, Canada on Halloween this year.