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Tuesday, October 5, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK

Everything is going All Black

Graham Henry has stamped his All Black authority on Wales

International sides have long been impressed with the consistency and power of the All Blacks and for many years it was a northern hemisphere mantra that to beat them you had to emulate them.

It now seems that the rest of the world has decided that, instead of emulating them, why not just hire their players and coaches?

The proliferation of New Zealanders cropping up in the colours of other nations is a significant feature of the 1999 World Cup. The hosts, Wales, have fullback Shane Howarth and coach Graham Henry, in addition to an Australian centre, Jason Jones-Hughes.

Scotland's resurgence has as much to do with the inclusion of Kiwi brothers Martin and John Leslie, a back row and a centre, and fullback Glenn Metcalfe, as the coaching skills of homegrown Jim Telfer and Ian McGeechan.

Maori star

Japan has taken the concept to its limits, acquiring the services of no-less than five New Zealanders - their so-called "Cherry Blacks".

[ image: Scotland's John Leslie is always at the centre of things]
Scotland's John Leslie is always at the centre of things
One of them, Rob Gordon, has even been named captain. All Blacks Graeme Bachop and Jamie Joseph - who came on as a substitute in the 1995 final - join former Fijian wing Pat Tuidraki in the side that this time around hopes to improve on its one win in three previous appearances in the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Bachop's brother, Stephen, with whom he played four Tests for New Zealand, lines up for Samoa alongside former All Black behemoth Va'aiga Tuigamala, the uncapped Pat Lam and Maori star Craig Glendinning.

Ireland have recruited All Black hooker Warren Gatland as a coach to try and impose some order on its traditionally chaotic national set-up, while Argentine coach Hector Mendez departed just two weeks before the start of the World Cup to make way for former All Black master tactician Alex Wyllie.

Inga the Winger

But the traffic in players goes both ways. Many of the All Blacks' famously potent players hail from the islands to the north of the country.

[ image: Samoan Va'aiga Tuigamala: Inga the Winger]
Samoan Va'aiga Tuigamala: Inga the Winger
Most notably Jonah Lomu, of Tongan descent, and the aforementioned Samoan Tuigamala - known as Inga the Winger - who became the world's first £1m rugby player when he transferred from Wasps to Newcastle in the Allied Dunbar Premiership.

Their current World Cup squad also boasts the talents of Alama Ieremia, who played four Tests for Samoa - one of them against New Zealand - before being recruited to the All Blacks' cause.

It would appear to be the rule that if a player cannot secure a place in his own national set-up, he should start checking his ancestry for the next best option.

Failing that, move to Japan, where the willingness to instantly integrate players who have been resident for the requisite three years is unparalleled.

In fact, Uruguay and Argentina are the only two of the 20 competing teams that are entirely selected from homegrown talent.

This suggests that if the trend continues unabated, future World Cups will more closely resemble football's European Championship with its multinational squads of superstars duelling it out for the biggest prize.

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Rugby World Cup 1999
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