England's pursuit of New Zealand rugby players is reaching comical levels, given the accusations of "poaching" levelled against the All Blacks by some British pundits over the years.

The 30-year-old Willi Heinz, a former Crusaders halfback, is the latest to appear on coach Eddie Jones' radar. Heinz has been added to the 26-man camp which is part of England's preparations for a two-test tour of Argentina next month.

Heinz, a New Zealand under-21 representative, qualifies via his English grandmother. But his selection flies in the face of World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot's aim to restore test selection as "a reward for devoting your career, your rugby life, to your nation".

Jason Woodward, the former Hurricanes back, and the Auckland born and raised Denny Solomona, who was with the Melbourne Storm, are already in the squad to tour Argentina.


Auckland-raised Ben Te'o, a Hibiscus Coast league junior, and the controversial captain Dylan Hartley, are Kiwis already established in Jones' battle plans.

England now have a number of players, including former Auckland loose forward Nathan Hughes from Fiji, who could be described as hired help with scant English heritage or connections. Or to put it another way, their devotion to England has come a little later in life than Pichot has in mind.

Jones is without his Lions contingent, including Te'o, while players from four clubs on Aviva Premiership duty have yet to join the camp.

Heinz, who plays for Gloucester, provides backup for Jack Maunder and Danny Care, the halfbacks named in the 31-man touring squad.

He started for Gloucester in the side's Challenge Cup final defeat over the weekend, selected ahead of Lions squad member Greig Laidlaw.

Heinz played 50-odd games for the Crusaders from 2010 to 2015. But his final season was wrecked by a broken leg suffered during a pre-season game. He signed with the English club a month later, almost immediately revealing his England devotion.

"I still feel like I'm young enough to offer something at the top level. I didn't manage to get quite there in New Zealand," Heinz told the Gloucester Citizen in 2015.

A few years ago, a Daily Mail writer reflected some northern opinion when he claimed: "The All Blacks have long since plundered the Pacific Islands, hence the accusations of hypocrisy aimed at (Steve) Hansen in recent days".

All Black coach Hansen had been lamenting the loss of players to Europe at the time. When it comes to claims of "poaching", the worm has well and truly turned.

World Rugby has just increased the residency qualification period from three to five years, effective from late 2020. But there was no change to the grandparent rule.

WR vice-chairman Picot stated: ""National team representation is the reward for devoting your career, your rugby life, to your nation and these amendments will ensure that the international arena is full of players devoted to their nation, who got there on merit."