Braid blazes a trail
Daniel Braid has joined Queensland, the first time a non-Australian qualified player has signed for one of the country's Super 14 teams.
Last Updated: 05/10/08 12:38pm
All Blacks flanker Daniel Braid has signed for the Queensland Reds, the first time a non-Australian qualified player has joined one of the country's Super 14 teams.
Braid, 27, is moving from the Auckland Blues after the Australian Rugby Union relaxed their rules on player eligibility, allowing each of the four Super 14 franchises to sign two non-Australian qualified players.
"This case highlights just how important the decision was to allow the states to contract overseas players," read a statement from ARU high performance manager and former Blues coach David Nucifora.
"The quality of Daniel as a player and a person will be invaluable to the Reds, who needed to fix a problem in terms of depth and experience at openside flanker."
Braid, who has won four caps for New Zealand, said it had been a difficult decision.
"This has been the toughest decision I've had to make in my rugby career," he confirmed.
"However, I also wanted to experience something new in rugby and to me this is the best of both worlds.
"I still get to play in this competition but in a different environment with some fresh new challenges."
The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) admitted they were disappointed to lose Braid, particularly as they have struggled to hold on to their top-tier internationals in recent years with 12 of last year's World Cup squad moving overseas.
"He is a valued player and we put a lot of work into what we thought was an attractive and flexible package for Daniel but he has opted to head to Australia so we are disappointed to see him go," read a statement from NZRU general manager of professional rugby Neil Sorensen.
Braid will not be eligible for the All Blacks for the duration of his stay with the Reds as the NZRU have a policy of not picking players with overseas contracts.
In light of the post-World Cup exodus they introduced a sabbatical clause for players on a case-by-case basis to allow them to spend a short time abroad.
Fly-half Daniel Carter has joined French side Perpignan on a six-month contract. He will join the club after the All Blacks' European tour in November before returning to New Zealand for their home internationals next year.