Samoan captain calls for IRB rule change

Samoa and Highlanders lock Filipo Levi has called on the IRB to rewrite international eligibility rulings if Pacific Island nations are to be competitive in the test arena.

Levi captained Samoa to a record 101-14 loss to the All Blacks at New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium on Wednesday.

The Samoans were unable to select all the players they wanted and were forced to field a severely depleted team which was missing European-based stars who could not gain releases from the respective clubs for the match.

The Samoan Rugby Union has spoken of their desire for a similar scenario not to happen in the future.

Levi, a former Highlander, has suggested that more change was needed and included an idea that would see Pacific Island players playing for their country once their careers with the All Blacks or Wallabies had finished.

“It will also help if we could get a few guys from New Zealand and change a few of those laws, IRB laws, with those stand-down periods,” he told Yahoo!Xtra Sport.

“It is like one country and that is it.

“You have the likes of Brad Thorn who has played for Australian league, there is no sort of consistency of playing for two countries. I know it is a different sport, but it would be good to get a bit of fairness for the island nations.

“Boys are born in New Zealand, we grow up to play for the All Blacks. “

“But then myself, I have had another chance to play at international (level), to play for Samoa.

“It is great. But then you have a lot of other guys like Ross Filipo, guys like Mose Tuiali’i. he is playing awesome rugby but now he is going to Japan to join them, not my club but a different team.

“A lot of guys are lost in the system. It is just something that the IRB, and hopefully the New Zealand Rugby Union can push for Samoa to look forward to the future.”

Levi’s suggestion was however shot down by current All Black fullback Mils Muliaina who was born in Salesi, Western Samoa.

Muliaina said that stand-down periods had been in force previously and it was a murky situation.

An example of a player who would benefit from being able to play for another country is Muliaina’s Chiefs team-mate Soseni Anese, who tasted a brief test fling with the All Blacks after coming off the bench against Fiji in 2005.

His test career with the All Blacks appears to be over so he is left stranded.

“The thing is, there is a lot of talent in Samoa. You saw out there guys you have never seen before and there were a few moments of brilliance from individuals,” Muliaina said.

“If they can get the resource back there and a few expert coaches, they can go a long way.

“It’s disappointing for guys like us when you see your home nation can get a lot better with help.

“Hopefully the IRB can come on board with that and help them in that way.

“When have the likes of Sos and Mose, you’re just opening up a whole can of worms really, letting guys play for all sorts of different countries.

“You allow it for one team and all of a sudden you’ve got guys changing year in and year out and you don’t really want that.”

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