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London, ENGLAND – July 12, 2022: 10am (Coventry Telegraph):  Former All Blacks forward Vaea Fifita has been given the green light to switch his international allegiance.

Fifita won the last of his 11 New Zealand caps in July 2019 and any hopes of a Test recall appeared to end in 2021 when he left Hurricanes and Super Rugby to join Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership.

However, a change in the international eligibility rules opened the door for the 30-year-old to pursue honours for the country of his birth Tonga.

Having ticked that key criteria, the back-row/lock would have to observe a three-year stand down from the international rugby arena before returning for a second nation.

Tonga officially announced Fifita was now ‘eligible for Tonga’ in a social media post on Monday (July 11). He will follow in the footsteps of fellow former All Blacks stars Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau – both of whom featured in Tonga’s 36-0 defeat to Fiji earlier this month in the Pacific Nations Cup. Neither participated in the 34-18 loss to Samoa that followed last weekend.

The next opportunity will come this Saturday when Tonga take on Australia A. While Tonga Rugby Union has declared Fifita is now eligible to represent Tonga, the match does fall just short of the three-year period. CoventryLive requested clarification on the matter and awaits a response.

Fifita made a big impression in his season at Wasps, helping head coach Lee Blackett to solve a problem at second row following the departure of Will Rowlands and the long-term injury to Joe Launchbury that rolled into the 2021/22 campaign.

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