Rugby: United States vs New Zealand Maori undermined by World Rugby

The USA Eagles will be without their star players when they play New Zealand Maori next month. Photo / Photosport
The USA Eagles will be without their star players when they play New Zealand Maori next month. Photo / Photosport

New Zealand Maori's showpiece match against the United States in Chicago next month has been undermined by the John Mitchell-coached Eagles being forced to ignore their overseas-based players for selection.

Mitchell told Martin Devlin on Radio Sport this morning that World Rugby had ruled the match on November 4, sat outside the regular international schedule and therefore overseas clubs were not obliged to release their players.

The former All Black coach said he was resigned to selecting an Eagles team from the domestic competition in the United States.

The decision robs the match of much of its sting at a time where the Maori are battling for a piece of our national rugby spotlight which is being commanded by the rampant All Blacks and also Super Rugby.

A full-strength Eagles line-up would have provided a stern challenge for the Colin Cooper-coached Maori squad.

But Mitchell will now be without the likes of powerhouse lock Samu Manoa who is on a $NZ1m plus a year deal with star-studded French Top 14 club Toulon where Ma'a Nonu is also based.

Manoa was described in 2014 by ESPNscrum as "perhaps the finest No.8 playing the game in the northern hemisphere" but his career with the Eagles has been limited to 15 caps due to his European club career.

Others who will be missing include former captain Todd Clever who is with the Newcastle Falcons in the English premiership, No. 8 Cam Dolan and outside back Blaine Scully who are both with Cardiff Blues and Rugby World Cup first five AJ MacGinty who was signed by English club Sale this year from Irish club Connacht.

The veteran Clever has played professionally in Japan, New Zealand and South Africa and now England. He missed the last Rugby World Cup due to dispute with the then national coach but might have been up for a recall under Mitchell.

As many as a dozen leading American players are unavailable to Mitchell.

The Maori will face the Eagles at Toyota Park as the first leg of a historical rugby double-header in Chicago. The day after the Maori-Eagles clash at Toyota Park, the All Blacks will face 2015 Six Nations champions Ireland at iconic Soldier Field, the home of the Chicago Bears NFL team.

- NZ Herald

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