Ardie Savea urges NZ Rugby to adapt overseas policy, pointing to Springboks' succcess

Ardie Savea urges NZ Rugby to adapt overseas policy, pointing to Springboks' succcess

World-class No 8 Ardie Savea has called for New Zealand Rugby to alter its overseas policy, saying it "needs to evolve".

The 30-year-old is plying his trade in Japan, which currently makes him unavailable for the national team, but he will return ahead of the July series.

As a result, Savea will be eligible for the All Blacks for their mid-year games against England and Fiji, but it does hamper his earning potential.

If players want to play for the national team, they have to forgo some lucrative opportunities abroad.

While NZR has introduced short-term sabbaticals to allow their stars, such as Savea, to benefit financially, some have decided to take longer-term contracts. That includes Richie Mo'unga, who is the most high-profile departure, Aaron Smith and Brodie Retallick.

New head coach Scott Robertson has previously stated that he wants the governing body to "keep an open mind" around their eligibility laws and the number eight believe that "times are changing".

"Things are moving fast. What worked five, 10, 15 years ago maybe can't work now," Savea told reporters. "We've just got to be innovative and smart around what we're doing."

Countries have taken different approaches to the player availability debate. New Zealand, Ireland and England will not select anyone who is not playing domestically, while Wales and Australia have compromised and introduced various different rules.

World champions South Africa, on the other hand, have taken away any restrictions and will pick from anywhere around the globe.

"The country that's proven that it works, that it helps, is South Africa," Savea said. "The majority of their team's playing (overseas) and they come together and win the World Cup.

"I don't think it's going to change drastically but I just think that something needs to evolve and grow."

Savea moved to Japan on a short-term deal following the Rugby World Cup - his first club outside of New Zealand - and is enjoying his time in Asia.

"It's scary how much the world's evolving and the game's evolving in different countries," he said.

"I think that's the best thing about being out of New Zealand. I'm playing against guys from South Africa, Pacific Island boys that are from Tonga and Samoa, the Japanese brothers, Aussie brothers.

"I'm playing against a different variety of players, different styles which has been refreshing and awesome where in New Zealand you're just playing against the New Zealand teams and Aussie teams."

Savea has unsurprisingly shone since signing for Kobe Steelers and All Blacks boss Robertson will hope his stint in Japan will have the desired impact.

Playing in Asia allows the star back-row to earn more money but it also eases the load on the body, potentially making him fresher when returning to New Zealand.

However, there is a train of thought that players heading back from Japan could take longer to adapt to Test rugby, given the much greater physicality of the international game, but Savea is determined to keep himself in good condition.

"You could easily come here (Japan) and drop your standards and just go about footy," he added. "But it's all up to the individual, whether they want to be the best or challenge themselves to be the best.

"I know for myself it doesn't matter where I play. Hopefully I am growing and seeking feedback from coaches to better my game and be better. The rugby here in Japan is pretty up there. It's bloody good footy."

READ MORE: Up-and-coming All Black star suffers long-term injury in Super Rugby clash