New Zealand All Blacks Rugby News

All Black coach backs ban on foreign players



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New Zealand coach Graham Henry said on Wednesday he firmly supported the All Blacks’ strict ban on foreign-based players despite the exodus which forced him to rebuild after last year’s World Cup.

Henry dismissed suggestions that the All Blacks could start selecting New Zealanders playing in fellow Super 14 countries Australia or South Africa, after flanker Daniel Braid’s move to the Queensland Reds this month.

“At the moment, no, because I think it decreases the value of New Zealand rugby,” Henry told a media conference call, when asked if he supported a change in the rules.

“I think it will decrease the quality of the game that’s played here because a lot of players will move overseas if they can be selected to play for the All Blacks from overseas.”

Henry also said the move would affect rugby’s popularity in New Zealand and hit TV revenues.

But he said he may change his stance if the Super 14 competition went ahead with plans to expand to new countries.

“I totally agree with the current situation but if Super rugby expanded and we had franchises played over a number of countries, that may change in the future,” he said.

Henry also said established players would qualify for “sabbaticals” abroad in the vein of star flyhalf Dan Carter, who is starting a six-month contract at French side Perpignan.

He added that the All Blacks would be at full strength when they face Australia in Hong Kong on November 1 — the first Bledisloe Cup match outside the two countries — holding an unbeatable 2-1 lead in the annual series.

Henry said he had faced his “hardest year” as New Zealand coach with half his team moving abroad and intense criticism following last year’s World Cup flop.

But he said he took great satisfaction in defending the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup titles with his new group of players.

“To build a team that still won the Tri-Nations and the Bledisloe Cup is hugely satisfying,” he said.

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