Rugby’s biggest stars to change allegiance as Cooper contemplates Australian citizenship
Pride in one’s country is a vital factor when it comes to international success, but the lines are often blurred when it comes to where athletes feel their “home” is.
The subject of the performance came to the fore after New Zealand-born Quade Cooper prompted the Wallabies to a 28-26 victory over South Africa, his 71st outing for his adopted country without ever hold Australian passport.
After being rejected in his application for Australian citizenship four times, Cooper is now expected to fulfill his wish after the country’s government confirmed the law would be changed in light of his recent exploits.
But he is far from the first superstar to impress for a country other than the one he was born in, with World Cup winners and records reaching the top of rugby for their adopted nations.
Sport mirror breaks down some of the best players to trade their allegiances from 10 to 1, ranked based on their impact for those nations and the overall quality displayed during their international careers.
10. George North
Born: King’s Lynn, England
Represented: Wales (102 caps)
Modern-day Welsh rugby greats George North could yet become the country’s all-time leader in test appearances and scored tries if the 29-year-old manages to avoid injury in the years to come. .
But Wales could have lost the Norfolk-born talent to bitter rivals England if his family had not moved to his mother’s birthplace, Anglesey, while North, 29, was still a baby.
A double British and Irish Lions tourist with 43 tries out of 102 caps (and more), the Ospreys star has at least a few more years ahead of him as he sinks deeper into the Welsh history books.
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9. Sitiveni Sivivatu
Born: Suva, Fiji
Represented: New Zealand (46 caps)
The first of three All Blacks alumni to feature in our countdown being born overseas, Sitiveni Sivivatu was one of the pioneers in mapping Fiji’s footprint in the rugby world.
The writing was on the wall for wing star Sivivatu after scoring four tries on his debut against his home country, passing the whitewash 29 times in 46 outings for New Zealand over a six-year span. .
8. Ronan O’Gara
Born: San Diego, United States
Represented: Ireland (128 caps)
Top scorer in Irish rugby history, Ronan O’Gara might have found a future as a kicker in the NFL if his family had decided to settle permanently in the United States.
O’Gara’s father, Fergal, worked as a microbiologist in San Diego, Calif., Where the future half-fly was born in 1977, but chose to return to the homeland later that year.
One of the most important figures in the history of Munster and Ireland, the two-time Heineken Cup winner and 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam champion is now thriving as a coach of La Rochelle.
7. Lote Tuqiri
Born: Korolevu, Fiji
Represented: Australia (67 caps)
It is well established that the Pacific Islands brought a conveyor belt of talent to their most recognizable rugby neighbors, and Australia were only too happy to benefit from Lote Tuqiri’s decision.
After making his international debut as a talisman in the rugby league, Tuqiri successfully transferred his try-scoring traits to the union, where he scored 30 times in 67 games for the Wallabies.
The tally puts the former Leicester Tigers and Leinster winger sixth among all-time best scorers in Australia, a phenomenal comeback given his international career with the union only lasted six years.
6. George Gregan
Born: Lusaka, Zambia
Represented: Australia (139 caps)
No player has represented Australia more chances than George Gregan, who won 139 caps for the Wallabies and was a key member of the team that won the 1999 Rugby World Cup.
The former scrum-half wouldn’t have had the same opportunities had he stayed in Zambia, where he was born, instead receiving a rugby education in Canberra.
Gregan won two Super Rugby titles with the Brumbies and beat New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup no less than six times, also setting a new record for most caps as the Wallabies captain (59).
5. Sergio Parisse
Born: La Plata, Argentina
Represented: Italy (142 caps)
It has often been said that Sergio Parisse could have played for just about any national team on the planet had he qualified, but it was ultimately Italy that was endowed with his talents.
It wasn’t a move that led to any silverware awards, however, unless the Six Nations wooden spoon counts, in which case the Argentine native is about as wealthy as the rest. .
Still playing for Toulon and having recently agreed to another one-year extension with the French giants, the 142-cap hero Azzurri will be sorely missed in rugby when retirement calls him.
4. David Pocock
Born: Gweru, Zimbabwe
Represented: Australia (78 caps)
Three-time nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year, David Pocock is often considered a talent whose career could have been even more remarkable without several serious injuries.
But it may have been South Africa, and not Australia, that benefited from his considerable powers in the game if Pocock’s parents had not migrated from Zimbabwe when he was a teenager in 2002.
A rear rower capable of knocking down any device almost on his own, Pocock made 78 appearances for Australia in 11 years before retiring in 2020 to focus on his conservation work.
3. Joe Rokocoko
Born: Nadi, Fiji
Represented: New Zealand (68 caps)
When the world wondered who would take over from Jonah Lomu after his international retirement in 2002, Joe Rokocoko was there to answer the call.
Another great wing talent with roots in Auckland’s Blues, Fiji-born Rokocoko wrote his own legacy for New Zealand after moving to the country as a child.
His 46 tries for the All Blacks are just three short of all-time leader Dougie Howlett, and Europe saw his talents well after helping Racing 92 win their last Top 14 title in 2016, his first season in France.
2. Serge Blanco
Born: Caracas, Venezuela
Represented: France (93 selections)
Serge Blanco would undoubtedly top many pundits’ lists as the best rugby player of all time, not to mention those who impressed for their adopted country.
It’s safe to say that the top scorer in French history wouldn’t have had much of a future in rugby if his family had remained in Venezuela, but the Blues benefited from their move to Biarritz when they were. children.
The “Pelé du rugby” used to cut opposition defenses during his 11-year career in France, winning numerous Five Nations titles, including two Grand Slam tournaments in 1981 and 1987.
1. Mils Muliaina
Born: Salelesi, Samoa
Represented: New Zealand (100 caps)
One cannot talk about the greatest New Zealand players of all time without mentioning Mils Muliaina, who played a major role in elevating the All Blacks to their current state during the 2000s.
The former full-back made over 100 Super Rugby appearances and became champion in 2003 with the Blues, but it was with the All Blacks that Muliaina’s success became synonymous.
One of 10 players to win 100 caps for New Zealand, Muliaina’s international career ended on a cruel note when he broke his shoulder against Argentina in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup 2011.
The All Blacks would then go on to beat France in the final and lift the Webb Ellis Cup almost as a tribute to Muliaina, happy that their faithful servant left Samoa at the age of three.