All Blacks' reject Gareth Anscombe eyes Wales spot
July 26, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
WELLINGTON -- Outgoing Waikato Chiefs back Gareth Anscombe said Friday that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realizing he had little hope of making the All Blacks.
Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was down the pecking order in his favored position of fly-half.
“There was a lot of factors but I mean, there's a lot of classy 10s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they're all pretty young as well,” he told Radio Sport.
“It's a good sign for rugby in this country that there is that problem I suppose.”
New Zealand has an embarrassment of riches in the pivot's position, with superstar Dan Carter top of the list and the likes of Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett proving more than capable understudies.
Anscombe qualifies to play for Wales through his Cardiff-born mother and said his family had always reinforced his “Welshness” even though he was born and raised in Auckland.
He said performing for the Blues was his top priority but if he was presented with the chance to earn international honors in his new adopted homeland he would not turn it down.
“My focus is very much on the Blues and if the opportunity to represent Wales comes as a result of my performances on the pitch then of course I will take it,” he said.
New Zealand has a policy of not considering overseas-based players for the All Blacks and Anscombe said the decision to move was a tough one.
“However, in consultation with my family, I came to the conclusion that the opportunity in Wales was one that I simply couldn't turn down,” he said.
Anscombe, who can play at fly-half or full-back, will work under Cardiff's new director of rugby, former Wellington Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.