Rugby

IRFU Recruitment Of Foreign-Born Players Really Annoys Luke Fitzgerald

IRFU Recruitment Of Foreign-Born Players Really Annoys Luke Fitzgerald

Come the November internationals next year, we could see Bundee Aki - one of the most exciting players in Irish rugby - in an Irish jersey.

Aki, from New Zealand, was recruited as a project player by the IRFU in 2014. Through the three-year residency rule, the 26-year-old will become eligible for Ireland in 2017.

Luke Fitzgerald believes that this IRFU policy is 'wrong'.

Quoted by the Irish Examiner, the former Leinster and Ireland back said he had nothing against individuals such as Aki, Jared Payne and CJ Stander but that he would prefer Irish-born players to be pulling on the green jersey.

I know that’s controversial, but... and it’s no reflection on those guys, they’re doing everything within the rules, I’d like to see Irish guys in there. Are we not good enough to fill the spots? I don’t know if there’s a big enough gap between Irish guys and those guys to really justify it?

Garry [Ringrose] looks an awesome player to me, Robbie [Henshaw] is a brilliant player, Stuart Olding, Luke Marshall, Johnny Sexton’s still our best player - he’s an Irish guy. Seán O’Brien – they’re all Irish, Cian Healy, Jack McGrath – loads of great players.

I don’t know if being born in a different part of the world makes you a better player. I think they’re probably better than us, but if they’re not making those international teams, why would we be taking them? Is that an admission we’re not as good as them, I’m sure it is.

During last year's World Cup, Fitzgerald was vying for a place in the Ireland team with Jared Payne. The New Zealander was preferred by Joe Schmidt and it annoyed him

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Fitzgerald feels that he can certainly sympathise with the likes of Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose who may have the compete with Bundee Aki for a starting position in the future.

Would it affect me if there was a guy from another place getting picked ahead of me? I’ve been in that spot, and it does - it pisses you off, definitely.

You’ve come all the way up through the internationals, you’ve done all the work through the system, and then all of a sudden some guy comes in and is perceived to be ‘better’ because he’s from a different place, and it’s ‘let’s get this guy in’. I think it’s really disappointing.

Picture credit: John Dickson / SPORTSFILE

See Also: "These Lads In Green Have Certainly Got Balls" - A New Look At Ireland's Tour Of South Africa

PJ Browne
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