Joe Schmidt has selected six players who were not born in Ireland.
Throughout the last number of years, rugby fans across the globe have stated their uneasiness with the sport’s residency rules.
In the southern hemisphere, supporters and union officials not only complain about player drain, but the way in which northern nations now seem to be targeting promising youngsters as ‘project players’, with the intention of capping them once they complete World Rugby’s three year term of residency.
While Australia, New Zealand and South Africa might be able to sustain the loss of a number of under age stars, the Pacific island nations certainly cannot.
However, this has not stopped World Rugby from sitting idly by while Top 14 side, Brive, established an academy in Fiji.
Indeed, of the squad of players who beat the New Zealand in an under 18s test match during 2013, only two players now remain in Fiji.
Although there are also a number of socio-economic factors also at play, Fiji will struggle to realise it’s full potential without the support the game’s governing body.
All of this brings us to Ireland, who have consistently produced a number of top class players since the turn of the century. While some began to raise alarm after the retirements of Brian O’Driscoll and the Paul O’Connell, the emergence of Robbie Henshaw and Iain Henderson should ensure a soft transition.
Where Ireland once solely relied on Ronan O’Gara at fly half, they now boast Johnny Sexton, Ian Madigan and Paddy Jackson. Similarly, have enviable depth at loosehead, in the back row and throughout the back line.
Nevertheless, to attain such strength in depth, for a number of years the IRFU and the Irish provinces have adopted a policy of signing promising southern hemisphere players and simply waiting three years before capping them on the international stage.
While they once targeted players such as Isaac Boss and Jared Payne, who were at best on the very fringes of the All Blacks squad, they now seem to be moving for high profile under age stars.
CJ Stander captained the Springboks under 20s during the 2010 Junior World Championships. Likewise, former All Black under 20s captain, Jake Heenan will become Irish qualified in November.
Although few doubt their commitment to Ireland’s cause, the fact that the Irish squad to tour South Africa will include six overseas players, will no doubt leave some fans feeling uneasy.
Ireland’s Six Overseas Players:
Finlay Bealham (Australian)
Sean Reidy (New Zealand)
Quinn Roux (South Africa)
CJ Stander (South Africa)
Richardt Strauss (South Africa)
Jared Payne (New Zealand)
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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