Rugby

NZ Herald Takes Swipe At IRFU And Lambastes Jared Payne's Lions Inclusion

NZ Herald Takes Swipe At IRFU And Lambastes Jared Payne's Lions Inclusion

Eyebrows were raised by Jared Payne's surprise inclusion in Warren Gatland's 41-man Lions squad on Wednesday, but not necessarily in the northern hemisphere.

Andy Farrell's influence doubtless told in Payne's selection, with the 31-year-old Ulster man famed for his defensive impact in midfield for his adopted country. Indeed, regardless of the Test sereis, Payne's potential influence on fellow squad members in defensive training drills alone could be deemed sufficient cause to bring him on tour down in his homeland.

The reaction in New Zealand to the former Crusaders and Blues back's selection, however, was decidedly more mixed. After all, Payne would presumably have grown up dreaming of lining out for the All Blacks versus the touring Lions, and not vice versa.

Writing in The New Zealand Herald, rugby scribe Gregor Paul has expressed his displeasure at the Payne situation, and indeed that of his fellow Kiwi Ben Te'o and South African-born CJ Stander. Paul maintains that the IRFU's decision to ship Payne over as a project player - and the repercussions of the New Zealander keeping young Irish talent out of the national team - was their own prerogative. What he can't abide by, however, is the notion that Payne might keep an English, Welsh or Scottish player out of the Lions XV.

Take Payne as the example. He was pushing towards the edge of All Blacks' selection in 2010 and 2011.

He'd consistently impressed at both the Crusaders and Blues, either at wing, fullback or centre and he was probably only a couple of injuries away from making the World Cup squad.

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.

They bought a New Zealander to fill a national jersey and while that is their business to square away with those domestic players trying to make it through the development pathways, it becomes a bigger problem when Payne and others who have converted as so-called project players, make the British and Irish Lions.

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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Paul concludes that it 'has to be wrong' that there are as many New Zealanders in the Lions squads as there are Scots. While it's an interesting column, it could surely be argued that New Zealand perpetually hinder the development of their own players by recruiting from the Pacific Island nations.

Nonetheless, you can read his article in full on The New Zealand Herald.

SEE ALSO: The Munster Team That Beat Saracens In 2008: Where Are They Now?

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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