All Blacks coach Scott Robertson says he will keep an open mind when it comes to selecting overseas-based players in his squads.
Players and management are in Auckland for a short two-day camp. It is the first time the new management gathers as a whole and is a chance to connect with players before they join their Super Rugby Pacific teams. A group of 22 players involved in last year’s World Cup campaign underwent strength and fitness testing over the camp.
Speaking at a press conference this afternoon and asked about the possibility of selecting overseas-based players, including Richie Mo’unga, Robertson expressed the need to keep an open mind. He stressed the importance of staying ahead of the rapidly changing landscape of international rugby.
Players contracted overseas are not eligible to play for the All Blacks, however, veteran players on short-term deals like Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea are eligible to represent the country next year, despite missing the upcoming Super Rugby season while playing in Japan.
Asked if he was trying to find a way to select Mo’unga or other overseas players, Roberston emphasised he was keeping an “open mind”.
“Look, what I presented to the board, the CEOs of Super Rugby, the PUs [provincial unions] at Heartland, I explained about keeping an open mind in that space, that’s what I’ve asked for... keep an open mind where the game is at the moment, it’s moving quite quickly, as we know. There is a lot of on and off-field, players and decisions and contracting, and I want to be a step ahead of that. Decipher that.”
Regarding the captaincy, Robertson remained tight-lipped about the number of candidates but stressed the importance of a collaborative decision-making process. He acknowledged the role of various coaches in selecting players for specific positions, fostering a sense of ownership among the coaching staff.
“I’ll name the captain when we name the squad. I’ve got to get in front of a few people... and have some chats in respect for all options.”
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