Strong AB side playing outside NZ
Following North Shore sharp-shooter Mike Harris booting his adopted nation to an unlikely draw against the All Blacks on Saturday, it got me wondering how many other top players fall outside the All Blacks' selection radar.
So like any good sports junkie with too much spare time, I decided to come up with a top XV of Kiwi rugby players who aren't eligible for the All Blacks because they're based overseas.
It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, given much of our best talent is staying put in New Zealand. I've selected some players out of position and am hoping to get a lot out of a few old timers for what would be an imaginary one-off match against the current All Blacks to raise more money for Christchurch's new cathedral.
Sadly for Harris he still doesn't make the cut for this squad, as Nick Evans has remained the number two first-five in the world despite his many years in exile.
I went for Kahn Fotuali'i at halfback, even though he now represents Samoa, because he was born in New Zealand and developed his game here too. And I think he has the spark and running game to keep Aaron Smith on his toes.
Given the match would be played under the roof in Dunedin's new stadium, Isaac Ross' wide running game could be useful, and workhorses like Chris Masoe, Mose Tuiali'i and Jerome Kaino would hopefully make up for his inability to hit rucks.
In the midfield, I think the Jared Payne, Sonny Bill Williams centre pairing would be a good match for Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu, despite their lack of game time together, as they provide a good mix of chiseled brawn and intelligent running lines.
At fullback, I've gone for Isaia "the special project" Toeava over older statesman Mils Muliaina in the vain hope he'll finally unleash the talent we all know he's got. And it might help that he no longer has Sir Graham Henry breathing down his neck trying to get him to justify his presumptuous selection as a teenager.
While I wouldn't expect this team to beat the All Blacks, I think our best coaching export, Robbie Deans, would ensure the team had someone desperate to get one over his old nemesis at the helm.
1. John Afoa - Ulster
2. Aled de Malmanche, Stade Francais
3. Carl Hayman, Toulon
4. Brad Thorn, Fukuoka Sanix Blues
5. Isaac Ross, NTT Shining Arcs
6. Jerome Kaino, Toyota Verblitz
7. Chris Masoe, Toulon
8. Mose Tuiali'i - Yamaha Jubilo
9. Kahn Fotuali'i - Ospreys
10. Nick Evans, Harlequins
11. Sitiveni Sivivatu, Clermont
12. Sonny Bill Williams, Panasonic
13. Jared Payne - Ulster
14. Rudi Wulf - Toulon
15. Isaia Toeava, Canon Eagles
Who would make your overseas All Blacks XV?