Two former All Blacks are poised to switch their international allegiance to Samoa at next month’s Final Olympic Sevens qualifier in Monaco.
Players with eligibility for more than one country can switch their allegiance by participating in Olympic qualifying events provided they have a passport for the second country and have completed a stand down period of three years.
World Rugby’s rules otherwise prevent players from representing more than one country at senior level.
Lakapi Samoa’s General Manager of High Performance, Seumanu Douglas Ngau Chun, said they’ve had discussions with some high-profile players who are keen to pull on the blue jersey.
“For us, I think we’ve got a couple of interested former All Blacks that are keen to use this opportunity to switch allegiance back to us.”
The Samoa men’s and women’s sevens teams will both be competing in Monaco for a berth in the Tokyo Olympics.
Tonga, Papua New Guinea and France are among the 22 teams vying for the last tickets to Tokyo. One men’s team will qualify and two women’s from the tournament.
A squad of locally based players have been training in Samoa under Manu Samoa Sevens coach Muliagatele Brian Lima and Manusina Sevens coach Auimatagi Sapani Pomare, while a New Zealand based team recently played games against Tonga and the All Blacks Sevens.
Tonga is also competing in the Final Olympic Qualifier and have decided to only select players who are playing in Europe because of the risks associated with Covid-19.
Seumanu said the bulk of the Manu Samoa Sevens squad will be locally based.
“That’s something that we’re still considering because we have to utilise this opportunity here to be able to qualify a couple of players that are interested to take part in the Manu Samoa,” he said.
“Management of the sevens are finalising their squad soon, but majority of the players will be from Samoa and we’re yet to confirm if there are any players from New Zealand in the next couple of days.
“We’re having another meeting again with the head coaches this week and then we can confirm the actual travelling plans.”
Samoa is determined to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, Seumanu explained, after missing out on a place at the Rio Games five years ago.
“We’re very confident of our two teams and we trust the management and their performances of trainings in the past and their many months of preparing,” he said.
“We have the ultimate aim at the Monaco competition and that is to win. We’re not just going there to make up the numbers we’re going there to make sure we qualifiy to the Olympics and we want that as a booster for our nation.”
There’s plenty to look forward to for Samoa rugby fans, with Manu Samoa to play the Māori All Blacks in July before two Rugby World Cup qualifying matches against Tonga.
The Manusina women are also scheduled to play a two-test series against Australia.