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Four former All Blacks are challenging the International Rugby Board's eligibility regulations as they look to relaunch their test careers with Samoa.

Among them is British-based Andrew Blowers, who played 11 tests for the All Blacks between 1996 and 1999 and whose mother was born in Samoa, and Alama Ieremia, now playing in Japan.

Blowers' first international was a non-test match for Samoa in South Africa.

The others who have joined Blowers and Ieremia in the fight to revive their international careers are Ofisa Tonu'u, now with Newport in Wales, and Dylan Mika.

Ieremia played for Wellington and Tonu'u for Wellington and then Auckland. Blowers and Mika both played for Auckland before they left for overseas clubs after realising they would not get back into the All Blacks.

The regulation that bars players from turning out for two nations says: "A player who has played for the senior 15-a-side national representative team or the next senior 15-a-side national representative team or the senior national representative sevens team of a union ... is not eligible to play [for the respective teams] of another union."

But the regulation came into force only a year ago, long after the players had switched allegiance.

All four are preparing a case in which they will argue they merit special consideration.

"I would love to play for Samoa, but I can't get my hopes up," Blowers was quoted as saying by the Times newspaper in London.

"It is a huge honour to represent any country, but with my mother's heritage it would be an honour and a matter of great pride to be allowed to wear the Samoa jersey again.

"I really feel for a lot of young Samoans, who maybe have only played briefly in the New Zealand, New Zealand A or sevens teams and then find themselves in limbo.

"This area needs to be addressed.

"There are a lot of kids who can't play international rugby and it would be great if they were allowed to because rugby in the islands is struggling."

Ieremia, who played for the All Blacks two seasons ago, appeared in two tests for Samoa, in 1993.

Tonu'u represented Samoa twice in 1993, and New Zealand five times in 1997 and 1998.

Mika played his two tests for Samoa in 1994 and then for the All Blacks at the 1999 World Cup.

The quartet's lawyers said they were not necessarily asking for the rules to be changed, but that the interpretation be examined, as the regulations were having an adverse effect on weaker rugby nations. Samoan coach and former All Black flanker Michael Jones said the IRB regulations were denying his team and test rugby of some leading players.

He said players such as Blowers and Mika were still good enough to play test rugby for most nations.

- NZPA