x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Borders have blurred in international rugby

The meeting between the rugby teams of England and New Zealand at Twickenham could be an advertisement for globalisation.

Robbie Fruean, the Canterbury centre, will get another chance to press his claims for an international call-up when he leads his side's pursuit of a hat-trick of ITM Cup titles against Waikato tonight. Although that does not necessarily means selection for his native New Zealand.
Fruean has been in mint form for the defending champions in New Zealand domestic rugby, leading the try-scoring charts with 10 this season.
However, his route into his national team is blocked by some significant competition. Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu were a pretty formidable partnership already, and now Smith has even been usurped by the blooming of Sonny Bill Williams.
If the All Blacks do not want him, Fruean could always try someone else, given the way international rugby is becoming increasingly a world without borders.
For example, tomorrow's meeting between England and New Zealand at Twickenham could be an advertisement for globalisation. More accurately, it will be an advert for New Zealand-born bulldozing centres.
Williams debuts alongside Nonu for the All Blacks. In direct opposition in the England midfield, they will be faced with the Auckland-born Shontayne Hape.
If Riki Flutey had not torn a calf muscle while on club duty last week, it was possible all four centres could have been New Zealanders of Pacific Island heritage.
The imports do have their uses, however. Earlier this week, Hape gave his adoptive compatriots the low-down on how to handle the Haka, saying it is part of the culture "back at home".
He might find it hard not to join in, given that he performed the war dance 14 times ahead of the rugby league internationals he played for New Zealand.
pradley@thenational.ae