Flutey has ‘no regrets’ about switch

One of the candidates for a centre spot on the 2009 Lions tour is certain he made the right decision when opting to give his allegiance to England. [more]

Flutey has ‘no regrets’ about switch

One of the candidates for a centre spot on the 2009 Lions tour is certain he made the right decision when opting to give his allegiance to England.

Voted PRA Player of the Year last season, Wasps’ Riki Flutey qualified to wear the red rose on residency grounds earlier this year and has since been named in Martin Johnson’s first Elite Player Squad. 

The 28-year-old former London Irish star represented New Zealand at all age grades before also playing for the NZ Maori but he never achieved a full All Black cap.

"I’ve no regrets whatsoever with the decision I made to represent England," said Flutey, who plays his club rugby for Lions coach Ian McGeechan.

"A year ago when it was being talked about there were mixed thoughts running through my mind.

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"I thought of Jarrod Cunningham – a good mate of mine who I played with in New Zealand and whose opinion I respected. I knew what he went through.

"He was asked to play for England as well but turned it down and said he would never wear the rose.”

Flutey has decided he has no issue representing his new home, however, a decision he says was made easier by the support he has received from those in New Zealand.

"Generally the reaction in New Zealand has been fantastic.

"You do get the odd one or two text messages saying ‘what are you up to’, but the people who mean a lot are really supportive.

"One opinion in particular that I respect is (former All Black hooker) Norm Hewitt’s. He sent a lovely e-mail wishing me all the best and giving his blessing.

"He was a person I looked up to as a leader and a player. When I first saw the e-mail from him I thought ‘oh heck, he might say something about wearing the England jersey’.

"But he told me to go and grab it with both hands and to do my best. To get comments like that was a real boost.

Flutey’s first chance to run out at Twickenham could well be this autumn when England take on the Pacific Islanders on November 8. He could even end up playing against his fellow countrymen when the All Blacks are England’s opponents three weeks later.

"Not once have I thought, ‘shucks, what have I done? I’m a Kiwi’. I have no regrets whatsoever.

"I’m proud to wear my England training kit and hopefully I’ll get to pull on the jersey as well.

"I thought about it knowing I didn’t get the opportunity to play for New Zealand at the highest level.

"To get the chance to play at the highest level and test myself against the best players in the world is fantastic."

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