Former All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow announces he is switching allegiance to Australia

Former All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow announces he is switching allegiance to Australia

New Zealand scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow has said he wants to play for Australia at next year’s Rugby World Cup, potentially becoming the most high-profile transfer between Test teams since World Rugby changed the sport’s eligibility laws last year.

Kerr-Barlow has been a very successful part of the La Rochelle side in recent seasons, winning the Champions Cup in June and was last capped by the All Blacks in November 2017.

The 32-year-old was born in Melbourne and raised in Australia until moving to Hamilton aged 13, while his mother was also an international scrum-half for Australia.

Players can now switch between international teams provided they have not played for their original Test team in the past three years and the player was born in the country they wish to transfer to or has a parent or grandparent born in that country.

The first wave of players to use the new laws this summer included Malakai Fekitoa, Israel Folau and Charles Piutau, all of whom made their debuts for Tonga after playing for New Zealand or Australia.

“I was born there, I have many ties in this country”

Kerr-Barlow, however, would be the first player to cross from one nation to another. Speaking to Rugbyrama, the scrum-half explained he was available for selection if called up by Dave Rennie, the Wallabies head coach who worked with Kerr-Barlow at the Chiefs in New Zealand , winning two Super Rugby titles together in 2012 and 2013.

“Unlike New Zealand, Australia has a rule whereby players who are overseas are still eligible for selection. I am available to play for the Wallabies!” Kerr-Barlow said.

“I was born there. I have a lot of ties in this country and if the staff calls me I will go without hesitation. It would be a great opportunity but for the moment I am focused on La Rochelle.”

While Rennie would no doubt be tempted to call a scrum-half he knows well and who has been on form, Australia are currently well-stocked in that position – unlike the fly-half – with Nic White, Tate McDermott and Jake Gordon. the three No.9s named in the last squad to face South Africa.

“I am available to play for the Wallabies”

Rennie is also limited when it comes to the number of foreign players he can select to each team under ‘Giteau’s Law’, named after former Wallaby fullback Matt Giteau. Politics, dating back to the 2015 Rugby World Cup when Giteau was called up while playing in France with Toulon, allows Rennie to select only three overseas-based players per team, provided they have at least 30 test caps or have passed five years previously under contract with a Super Rugby franchise.

Two of those Rugby World Cup places appear to be taken by Quade Cooper, Australia’s number 1 flyhalf despite his recent Achilles tendon injury, and powerhouse center Samu Kerevi – who suffered a knee injury while playing for Australia Sevens at the Commonwealth. Games – provided that both are fit.

“I will go without hesitation. It would be a great opportunity

The battle for third and final place abroad would therefore be between winger Marika Koroibete (Saitama Wild Knights, Japan), Kerr-Barlow’s La Rochelle teammate Will Skelton, lock Rory Arnold (who is expected to move in Japan) and Kerr-Barlow himself. , decreasing the scrum-half’s pick chance.

Bernard Foley, the fly-half who plays for Kubota Spears in Japan and hasn’t played for the Wallabies since the 2019 Rugby World Cup, was called up to Australia’s last squad after Cooper’s injury, occupying the one of the current positions abroad with Arnold and Koroibete.

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