With the increasingly global look to Super Rugby, there are now plenty of rugby nomads who are playing for teams outside of their own country. While there are plenty of Southern Hemisphere players in Europe and Japan, there are heaps of New Zealanders in Australia. Australia has five teams now and their lack of depth has forced them look overseas to find enough players, including New Zealand. We must also remember that players like Quade Cooper, Richard Kingi, Cooper Vuna, Joseph Tomane, Christian Lealiifano and Atieli Pakalani have spent plenty of their lives in New Zealand, but have decided to move to Australia for more opportunities.
There are players from New Zealand who couldn't get Super Rugby contracts in their own country who now find themselves in overseas Super Rugby teams playing against their own countrymen. It also offers New Zealand players a chance for an OE without having to go to a non-English speaking country.
There are also some top level international players from countries like France, Ireland, Russia, Tonga, Samoa, England, Namibia and Fiji in the Super Rugby competition.
New Zealanders in overseas Super Rugby teams;
James Kamana (Lions)- The Tasman winger and fullback was useful during the ITM Cup, but with players like Israel Dagg, Zac Guildford, Sean Maitland and Tom Marshall in the squad, it is difficult to see him getting a look-in. He must be loving getting an opportunity at Super Rugby level.
Winston Stanley (Force) - The Auckland midfielder who struggled to get a chance at the Blues with the arrival of Ma'a Nonu for 2012 is plying his trade in Perth. He is probably pleased to avoid the debacle at the Blues under Pat Lam in 2012.
Ged Robinson (Rebels) - Ged Robinson is the Wellington backup to Dane Coles who couldn't get a Super Rugby contract for the Hurricanes and so went over to the Rebels.
James King (Rebels) - The big lock played some games for the Blues last year, but went to the Rebels to get some game time since Ali Williams and Anthony Boric were the main options at the Blues. He would probably be getting some time for the Blues if he had stayed there since Boric is injured and Williams isn't getting any younger.
Fotunuupule Auelua (Brumbies) - The Wellington born loose forward plays for the Brumbies after stints in Japan and Europe.
Leon Power (Brumbies) - While he is considered a local Australian player, Power is a Taranaki lock who comes to the Brumbies after a good season with Bay of Plenty.
Toby Lynn (Force) - Toby Lynn is in the journeyman tag in New Zealand rugby. He has been a solid lock for Waikato and the Chiefs. He is eligible for the Wallabies like Leon Power. Given the lack of depth of Australian rugby, you just can't discount his chances of playing for Australia at some stage.
Tom Chamberlain (Rebels) - The former Blues loose forward was involved in beating his old team-mates at the weekend. He is another one of these fringe players who just missed Super Rugby selection in New Zealand. He played for Southland and North Harbour in the ITM Cup and must have been close to making the Highlanders or Blues this season.
Mike Harris (Reds) - The highest profile New Zealand player in Australia is Mike Harris with the Reds. He is another example of how Auckland has let a North Harbour player leave at the expense of an Auckland player. He is a quality player and would have been picked up in the New Zealand teams draft if the Reds didn't pick him up. Robbie Deans will have his eyes on this guys since he is eligible for Australia.
In conclusion, it is interesting to see so many New Zealanders playing in other non-New Zealand Super Rugby franchises. This shows the lack of depth in Australian rugby especially where guys that couldn't even make any New Zealand teams are being relied on to help Australian teams remain competitive. The only problem is if these guys like Mike Harris and Toby Lynn flourish at this level and get snapped up by Wallaby coach Robbie Deans through an Australian family member and New Zealand has a Rugby World Cup like injury crisis, then we may regret letting these guys go!