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Australia Super 14 teams set to go ‘foreign’

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Star players imported from overseas could be playing for the Australia’s Super 14 franchises as soon as 2009 because Australian Rugby Union directors will be asked to endorse a new foreign player policy.


The ARU Board have agreed in principle to relax the sport’s current stance which prohibits any players ineligible for Wallabies selection from playing with an Australian province.


The Board has resolved to “accept the recommendations ‘ to allow the introduction of foreign players into Super Rugby competition commencing season 2009, subject to the finalisation of a detailed policy in consultation with the Super 14 member unions, RUPA and the national coach”.


Discussions involving the relevant bodies are currently in progress and a final submission will be presented to the board for approval on the 5th of September.


“It was agreed the time is right to make this change,” ARU Chairman Peter McGrath said.


“We are moving towards transformation at Super rugby level and allowing foreign players to be involved with our teams – not for the first time – is part of that evolutionary process.”


The move is designed to combat Northern Hemisphere teams in France and Britain signing the southern hemisphere’s best and brightest players as the new format will make the Super 14 a lot more exciting by raising the profile of the tournament.


The likes of Six Nations stars such as Brian O’Driscoll, Shane Williams and Danny Cipriani or Jonny Wilkinson could soon be playing Super rugby in Australia.


An initial idea that has been reported is that Australian franchises would be allowed two ‘star foreign’ players, who will be able to sign two-year contracts that would not fall under the ARU salary cap.


McGrath pointed out that when overseas players were allowed to play for Australian clubs in the early years of Super rugby, there had been successes.


‘When the game first went professional and Super 12 was launched, there was an opportunity for Australian teams to recruit overseas players.” said McGrath.


‘It proved an immensely successful venture in some instances. Patricio Noriega went on to play for the Wallabies after being signed to the Brumbies from Argentina where he was established as a world-class prop.


‘Tiaan Strauss captained the Springboks before heading to Australia to play rugby league and then Super 12 with the Waratahs. Tiaan also went on to play for the Wallabies in the backrow.


‘Those cases cannot be replicated in this era. Players now are only allowed to represent one country.


‘The re-introduction of foreign players, however, will have advantages for our teams, for our fans, and for overseas marquee or emerging players wanting to experience the best provincial competition in the world.


‘It will of course be tightly controlled and managed. That is why we are still waiting on final details from Management before endorsing the change.’


 Super14.com

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