At least three Australian-born players have pledged allegiance to Japan in the hope of qualifying to play international rugby for the Brave Blossoms.
According to a news report published by AAP, three Australians – Dylan Riley, Jack Corenlsen and Ben Gunter – are targeting Japan selection for the 2023 World Cup via World Rugby’s three-year residency rule.
Riley, who represented the Australia at the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2017 and also played for Brisbane City in the National Rugby Championship (Australia’s equivalent to the Currie Cup), currently plies his trade for the Panasonic Wild Knights in the Japanese Top League, believes the switch of allegiance is a trend which is likely to become more prominent because of lack of opportunities.
‘I’m currently working through the eligibility criteria but at the end of the day it comes down to whether you’re playing good footy,’ Riley said.
‘I’ve grown my game and met new people, I’ve grown into loving Japan and I’ve made a decision on staying here. My family have stuck with me the whole way, so they’re just happy to see my living out a dream.’
‘I didn’t really have opportunities back home and this came up to come to Japan and play under an awesome coach, Robbie Deans, so I took it,’ Riley said.
‘I thought Japan was the best opportunity I had at the time to grow my rugby and I took it and have loved it ever since. It’s quite hard in Australia if people are looking to go back, although it’s not something I’ve wanted to do.’