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ARU to open up Super 14 to foreign stars


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The likelihood of foreign or Northern hemisphere stars playing for Australian teams in the Super 14 seems highly likely after the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) decided to change its eligibility rules for foreign stars this week.

The move still has to be rubber stamped at the next ARU official board meeting but that now seems to be a formality that could start as soon as 2010.

The move is designed to compete against cash rich European clubs and could see the likes of Jonny Wilkinson (pictured) or Brian O’ Driscoll playing in the Super 14.

So far it appears that only two foreign players will be allowed at each of Australia’s four provinces –Western Force, Reds, Brumbies, and the Waratahs — and they would have to be paid within existing salary cap conditions.

The foreigners would also be subject to a two year contract.

Former Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie, who recently left the Tahs for the Head coach job at French Top 14 side Stade Francais, has been a long-time advocate of foreign players.

“It is logical, as with four Australian teams we have enough diversity to supply the Wallabies,” McKenzie said in the Irish Independent.

“It would be great to get more bums on seats and create more interest and more revenue for the clubs.

“You hear on the grapevine that guys like Brian O’Driscoll want to play in the Super 14.

“Someone like that playing in the competition would have to help to raise the profile of the game.

“You can’t underestimate the power and intrigue of high-profile players coming into a competition.

“Maybe you can have one foreign player, and the other player could be from a targeted developing nation.

“You don’t take the player, but develop them on behalf of another country.

“We have to make the jump between not having foreign players to having foreign players.

“Once we make that jump, then we can start looking at the mechanics of it.”

Its is not unthinkable that All Black and Crusaders star Dan Carter who recently signed a lucrative six-month contract with French club side Perpignan during his sabbatical season next year, even suggested he could consider entering the running to play for an Australian team in the future.

“It is not something I have thought much about but I guess so,” Carter said.

“Obviously you are born and bred in certain areas and have real connections between your home teams.

“It is always tough to leave that. But in the professional game these things can happen.

“It is something you’d have to look at, the positives and negatives, if that was the case.”

The move has also been supported by Munster’s Australian-born director of coaching Tony McGahan.

“Dan Carter is a world-class player and although it’s a massive loss to New Zealand when he’s away for six months it’s a feather in the cap of northern hemisphere rugby to have one of the world’s best players in European competition,” McGahan said.

“Brian O’Driscoll has made it known that he wants to play in the southern hemisphere’s Super 14 competition and I don’t see any reason we he shouldn’t be allowed to have his wish.

“Rugby is a global sport these days so I would welcome the opportunity for some of the Munster players and other Irish and European players to play in the southern hemisphere before coming home to continue their careers with their clubs.

“It’s a restraint of trade for the authorities not to let them play in other countries but perhaps the situation might change in the future.”

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