Relaxing Wallabies eligibility rules comes at a cost, according to All Blacks veteran Keven Mealamu.
Mealamu sees pros and cons for Australian rugby in the new rules which allow overseas-based players who have 60 Test caps and held an ARU contract for seven years to be selected for their country.
While Australia’s policy will allow some overseas-based players to stay in the frame for Test selection, 123-Test hooker Mealamu said it would also mean up-and-coming talent will miss out on learning from some experienced teammates.
“I learnt a lot from the players who have been here before me and I quite enjoy sharing what I know about the game with younger players,” he said on Thursday.
“I see that’s why we’ve been so strong over the years.”
Mealamu said he wouldn’t have thought about moving abroad even if NZ Rugby had had a similar policy.
“For me personally, no,” he said. “There were other reasons I’ve stayed in New Zealand.”
Australia’s move means New Zealand and England are the only major rugby-playing nations that select only home-based players for their national side.
A number of New Zealand players have already signalled their intention to join the exodus offshore, including young Blues backs Charles Piutau and Francis Saili, who both have All Blacks experience.
Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said every country had its issues.
He cited the situation in France, where there was a dearth of local five-eighths and No.8s because clubs filled those positions with foreigners.
“I think we’ve got some issues with some of our younger guys leaving,” he said.
“The ARU has obviously decided to be competitive at the World Cup.
“It’s a balancing act between making sure your national side is winning and your home competition is still buoyant.”
Kirwan believed the New Zealand regulations continued for work for New Zealand rugby, “but the game is fast moving and we have to keep moving with it”.