Rugby | 2 months ago
It didn't take long for the Kiwi media to turn on Jared Payne
It was bound to happen

Kiwi journalist uses Jared Payne as poster boy for all that is wrong with rugby.

The inclusion of Payne, CJ Stander and Ben Te'o in Warren Gatland's Lions squad for the 2017 tour was always going to spark criticism. Those complaints about the rugby residency laws are predictably being dredged up again.

Gregor Paul has some strong views on the issue. The rugby scribe singled out Payne's case in particular in a recent piece in the New Zealand Herald.

He had no arguments over Payne possessing the requisite quality to make the Lions, but he argues that at one point the Tauranga-born Ulsterman once had ambitions of beating them.

"No one is suggesting he was going to be a regular All Black, but the point is he was targeting that as his goal, right up until Ulster came calling with a swag of cash that saw him head to Ireland."

"The story to this point has no twists - until it is realised that Ulster were supported financially by the Irish Rugby Union in making the payment because the latter could see that Payne would have served his required residency period at about the same time they expected the great Brian O'Driscoll to retire."

While he admits that Payne's qualification is an issue for the Irish team, he puts forward the notion that his residency may be unfair on those born in Ireland and the British Isles who missed out on a seat on the plane.

"It's one thing for Irish players to miss out on playing for Ireland because of an import, but is it fair that say, Scots, Welsh and English players should miss out on winning a place with the Lions for that same reason?"

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You can see his point, particularly when you consider that there are as many New Zealand-born players as Scots in the squad, but the law is already in place. If a player has done enough to be Irish/English/Welsh/Scottish qualified, why create a new law to prevent him playing for a side that has no birthright attached to it? That doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense.

The criticism is just a bit rich coming from New Zealand, a nation that has been drawing on the Pacific Islands'  talent pool for decades. Now they are taking aim at the European countries for taking their surplus talents. All Blacks have scouts and contacts in all the islands and their practice of recruiting youngsters into a Kiwi grammar school as a teenager so they will be technically qualified by the time they are 19 or 20 is well known.

Vaea Fafita and Ofa Tu'ungafasu are two Tongan-born players in the current New Zealand squad. In the November Series, the All Blacks squad contained three players born in Tonga, two from Fiji, one from Australia and one from American Samoa.

The European sides aren't the only ones utilising the current residency laws.

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS FIRST TEST SPECIAL!

Click play [below] for the latest episode of The Hard Yards rugby podcast, with Stephen Ferris, Kevin McLaughlin and Isaac Boss joining host Andy McGeady and SportsJOE's Pat McCarry.

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New Zealand, Jared Payne, Warren Gatland, Lions Tour 2017