Well, it was just a matter of time before the cultural virus was going to spread from rugby league to rugby union.

The South Pacific Island cultural revolution is beginning to gather momentum much sooner than I had anticipated.

Former international rugby players who have represented top-tier nations, such as the All Blacks and Wallabies, are wanting to play for their tier-two countries of heritage.

The likes of ex-All Blacks Ma'a Nonu, Steven Luatua and Victor Vito have joined Charles Piutau and Frank Halai to lift the decibels on loosening eligibility rules to enable capped players to fulfil that commitment.


Former Wallaby Wycliff Palu, although he's 35 now, echoes the sentiments as someone of Tongan heritage.

"If I was a couple of years younger, I'd definitely have put my hand up. It would be good for rugby," the 58-cap Australia No 8 said.

The Jason Taumalolo phenomenon is to blame, we are led to believe, for a rash of secondary schoolboys in New Zealand opting to play for the Samoa Barbarians team rather than New Zealand when the World Schools' Sevens tournament kicks off in Auckland on December 16.

The NZ Condors Invitational team selected Jeriah Mua, of Hastings Boys' High School, and Siave Togoiu, of Auckland, but they declined.

"Our tournament rules say that New Zealand has first preference, however, the boys have chosen to play for Samoa," World Schools' Sevens director Phil Gaze reportedly said.

"It's a continuation of what's happened at the Rugby League World Cup and players are choosing their hearts which I think is fantastic."

The silence is deafening right now but rugby's parent body, the IRB, will have to respond sooner or later on how and where it sees the game heading.

What is transpiring transcends the formalities of amending policies to shift the balance of power amid reluctance based on widespread phobia that commercial values will erode.

You see, Taumalolo has just become the face of reconciliation among tier-one countries that not just league, or sport for that matter, is undergoing a renaissance of sorts.

Even then some quarters perceive that the league star, who switched allegiances to Tonga after he was named in the Kiwis team, somehow crossed the line of civility in choosing his heritage.

Regrettably that just simply exposes the total lack of understanding of the Pacific Island ethos.

"If they love Tonga and Samoa so much then why don't they just go back to live there?" someone recently remarked to me in his take on the whole affair.

Therein lies the misconception that misplaces working for a living with total allegiance.

It is true that the desperate need to put food on the table for families make many people do things they wouldn't even entertain as thoughts, such as singing foreign national anthems.

Even slipping on the black jersey doesn't mean some players should start shedding the threads of heritage.

It seems Pacific Island players have come to the realisation that working harder and playing by the rules in a well-paid environment doesn't necessarily feed the soul.

Immense pride in one's heritage and culture is okay, even if it comes across somewhat perverted.

In many respects, the island players have mutated from the protagonist in Albert Wendt's 1973 novel, Sons for the Return Home. Look past the superficial cross-cultural romance between a Samoan university student and the daughter of a wealthy Palagi family, and you'll find the contemporary rugby graduates are quite comfortable to conform to culture over social status.

For Pacific Islanders, heritage is a badge of honour that champions such values as compassion, charity and untold sacrifices that go beyond the shores of New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

It typically goes against the grain of Western values.

It's a culture which seldom needs reminding that when fame and success come knocking don't forget where you come from.

The thought of putting one's aged parents in a retirement village never crosses the mind.

Just as they will incur debts in a show of strength to support their countries of heritage, they'll endure financial hardship to ensure the church becomes a pillar of communal bonding.

It's not far fetched to suggest that lack of comprehension goes a long way in explaining why the Blues or NZ Warriors underachieve.

Gaze knows too well tourney rules stipulate that New Zealand has first preference on schoolboys but what's the point in legislating to coerce players to run on to the park when their heart's just not in it.

Putting players in legal ball and chains is criminal. Not only is it robbing the world of a classic spectacle but highlighting the existence of an indentured labour system that prevents tier-two nations' talent from breaking free of the shackles.

Frankly, that status of South Pacific Island rugby union is the backyard shame of New Zealand and Australia although Europe also is fast stripping it of its resources, akin to the environmental catastrophe of Nauru after the phosphate is gone.