Poms plundering Pacific Islands talent

Fiji coach Inoke Male has labelled England ‘vultures’ for their stockpiling of foreign players.

Male told The Times of London that several players have made themselves unavailable for Fiji (who play England on 10 November) in a bid to become eligible to play for England or France under the IRB’s three-year residency rule.

Racing Métro outside back Virimi Vakatawa wants to play for France while England coach Stuart Lancaster has included Mako Vunipola, the Saracens prop who is the son of Fe’ao Vunipola, the Tonga international, alongside Manu Tuliagi, whose elder brothers played for Samoa, in his squad for the November internationals.

‘There are several players not available to us for this tour because they want to play for other countries,’ Male told The Times. ‘Young players now want to pursue options for other countries rather than coming on tour which is not a good sign. We have got a lot of problems caused by European countries, especially France and England, who have taken some of our players through their academies when they were young. England and France have got a lot of players to pick from already and, as a small country, for our players to be poached from us is not acceptable.

‘There is one very talented player we wanted to select who went to an English academy and he is now 16 years old and has opted to play for England. It is very obvious what is happening. If you go to the secondary school championships you will see scouts from Australia, New Zealand and England trying to find your players who want to go overseas. They are taking our young players like vultures.’