New All Blacks coach Scott Robertson is urging everyone to “keep an open mind” when it comes to selecting overseas-based players for the national team. Robertson, who officially took charge on November 1, 2023, after Ian Foster’s tenure ended with a defeat to the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup final, has initiated discussions with various stakeholders in the rugby community about the possibility of considering overseas players.
During a recent press conference, Robertson hinted at the prospect of Richie Mo’unga, currently playing in Japan, rejoining the All Blacks. However, he remained coy and suggested that he wanted to “keep an open mind” when it comes to player selection. Mo’unga, a key player for the Crusaders, has been in the first year of a three-year deal in Japan.
The selection policy for the All Blacks traditionally limits eligibility to players based in New Zealand or on contracted sabbaticals overseas. Robertson’s discussions about keeping an open mind indicate a potential shift in the selection approach, but he did not explicitly reveal any changes.
The issue of selecting overseas-based players has become more prominent as several key All Blacks, including Mo’unga, have headed abroad. Robertson acknowledged the rapid changes in the rugby landscape and emphasized the need for flexibility in on and off-field decisions.
The press conference also touched on the topic of Damian McKenzie, who recently re-signed with New Zealand Rugby until 2025. McKenzie could face implications if changes to the selection policy make Mo’unga eligible for selection while playing in Japan. While Robertson expressed a desire to select the best available players, the potential adjustments to the selection policy are still uncertain. The final decision rests with New Zealand Rugby, and the rugby community is awaiting developments in the future.