NZ rugby clubs are poaching Pacific players and paying them ‘illegally -Ben Ryan



benThe way many Pacific Island players are recruited to New Zealand clubs is “like the Wild West”, says Fiji’s sevens rugby coach Ben Ryan.

“We’re getting huge amounts of players going into clubs in New Zealand and Australia and elsewhere on visas that don’t allow them to be paid for playing rugby. I’ll see eight or nine members of a club all go to New Zealand at the same time.”

His comments come as it is revealed that some rugby clubs around New Zealand are allegedly creating bespoke jobs for Pacific Island rugby players, in order to get them work visas.

Ryan says the Pacific players often aren’t given the full picture.

“A lot of these boys will get a phone call from somewhere in New Zealand saying they want them to come over, and perhaps leave out a few important points. How are they gonna survive on the money that they’ve been given, or the work that they’re doing?”

“They get them doing manual labour on a low wage, maybe give them some pocket money to play for their clubs, and they’re dangling that carrot of a professional contract at ITM Cup level … when they know that these contracts aren’t going to be eligible to them unless they are eligible for New Zealand rugby.”

Sometimes players are on the wrong visas, Ryan says.

“They’re illegally being paid, and then they normally overstay because these clubs offer trials and say ‘if you can stay a bit longer we’ll give you an extra chance for this or that’.”

He says many agents come to Fiji to find players but are not registered.

“They’re … working on poaching players at tournaments, so they’re in breach of the visa traveling to Fiji. There’s money going to all sorts of people, and normally the player is the last person that sees any of that.”

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