Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Unwanted Anscombe may turn to Ireland

Gareth Anscombe. Photo / Getty Images
Gareth Anscombe. Photo / Getty Images

Delisted Blues five-eighths Gareth Anscombe may end up playing for his father's Ulster club in Ireland.

That scenario has some way to play out but it seems there has been a lukewarm response about Anscombe from other New Zealand franchises.

If there is no offer for Anscombe, the Blues are obliged to retain him on their books until the end of his contract, unless another club comes courting the young five-eighths.

If there is no interest from all five New Zealand franchises, the 21-year-old will be ranked outside the country's top 10 five-eighths.

His interest may then shift offshore to somewhere like Ireland where his father is coaching Ulster, a strong club but one without a top five-eighths and certainly one of Anscombe's goalkicking pedigree.

The pair have linked up before at club level and for New Zealand in the junior world championship-winning side last year.

If Anscombe shifted to Ireland and felt comfortable in that environment, he would qualify to play for Ireland after three years and have a shot at the next World Cup.

After the five-eighths kicked Auckland to an ITM Cup victory against Taranaki this week, he was kept away from any media questions about his future.

Coach Wayne Pivac said he could not discuss any issues about his five-eighths other than his fine performance against Taranaki.

Earlier this year, Anscombe struggled to fit into a poor Blues side. He was hampered by the side's erratic form and selections although he still managed 10 games while Michael Hobbs and Piri Weepu also filled that role.

Anscombe missed the last few matches because of an ankle injury and then battled to find his match rhythm in the ITM Cup, although his goalkicking has been strong.

The Blues still have Michael Hobbs on contract and signed Chris Noakes midyear while recently signing Southland's Marty McKenzie who is a five-eighths/fullback utility.

- NZ Herald

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