Aussie born Kiwis no problem -
Nikau

Tawera Nikau and Richie Barnett have no problems with the trend toward Australian-born players donning the black and white jersey.

Melbourne Storm centre Jake Webster this week became the latest player in a long line with green and gold blood to front for the Kiwis.

Melbourne-born Webster, 22, whose accent is as Aussie as they come, will debut in the opening Tri-Nations test against Australia in Sydney on Saturday night.

Alongside him in the haka will be Frank Pritchard, former Kiwis skipper Nathan Cayless and Brent Webb - all of them born in Australia.

It's a trend common in league, and rampant in rugby. Players who meet the eligibility criteria can play for their adopted country or - in Webster's case - against their country of birth.

In league, players are eligible for the Kiwis through a New Zealand parent or grandparent.

In Queensland-born Webb's case, residency was gained after spending three years in Auckland playing in the NRL with the New Zealand Warriors.

Webster, who scored 10 tries in 24 games for the Storm has admitted he will have to brush up on the haka and New Zealand anthem.

That has raised the issues of whether he is a fair dinkum Kiwi, or simply chose a New Zealand test jumper knowing it was his best chance to taste international football.

Former Kiwis skipper and 18-test international Tawera Nikau said selecting Australian-born players did not devalue the black and white jersey.

"I don't think we're really stretching it at all because ... his father's Kiwi and his mother's Greek. If he's got kiwi blood all the best and good to luck to him," Nikau said.

After the high-profile case of New Zealand-born Brisbane Broncos fullback Karmichael Hunt turning his back on the Kiwis last year, New Zealand should welcome players who wanted to represent the side, Nikau said.

His sentiments were endorsed by another former captain, 26-test veteran Richie Barnett.

"If players say no to the jersey that's their problem," Barnett said. "You can't force people like Karmichael Hunt.

"If they don't want to play you can't push it. If they want to play for the jersey then that's the end result.

"If you've got some Kiwi affiliation through a parent and you want to play 100 per cent for your country, I think that's great.

"It's a problem when you have to try and persuade people to play for your country, that's a worry in itself."

One which led commentators to question the eligibility rules when Christchurch-born Tonie Carroll played five tests for the Kiwis between 2001-03.

He represented New Zealand at the 2000 World Cup, then turned his back on New Zealand, playing for Australia against the Kiwis in April's Anzac test.

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