McAlister wants to be a Hurricane
Outstanding North Harbour second five-eighths Luke McAlister wants to play for the Hurricanes in next year's Rebel Sport Super 12 rugby competition.
The New Zealand Colt has asked the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) for an exemption to bypass the Blues so he can first five-eighth for the Hurricanes the New Zealand Herald reported today.
The NZRU and the Blues confirmed the test case was part of a complicated rundown to the October 15 deadline for provincial transfers and October 29 announcement of the Super 12 squads.
Under the Super 12 selection criteria, McAlister is a certainty to be picked by the Blues in their protected quota of 24 players.
However, the Herald believes McAlister is concerned about getting enough work at first five-eighths or in midfield behind the cluttered talent pool of Carlos Spencer, Tasesa Lavea, Sam Tuitupou and Ben Atiga.
He could face similar congestion at the Hurricanes with All Blacks skipper Tana Umaga, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Tane Tu'ipulotu in the midfield.
However, with the departure of stalwart first five-eighths David Howell to Ireland, and the NZRU's decision to rule Australian Brock James ineligible for the Super 12, the thought of having McAlister would be a dream scenario for the Hurricanes.
Similar concerns forced All Black utility Nick Evans to transfer provinces, so he could be guaranteed his five-eighths position with the Highlanders, and fellow Harbour players, Craig Newby and Rico Gear have made similar moves or are considering them.
NZRU deputy CEO Steve Tew and Blues chief executive David White verified that McAlister had broached the idea of staying with Harbour, but sidestepping selection in the Blues.
Neither would go into any details and White was adamant the talented youngster would stay with the Blues.
"He and a number of players are looking at where they will sit inside the Rebel Sport Super 12 selection process," Tew said.
"It is not for me to confirm at this stage any of that sort of stuff [dispensations] because we are in the process of managing all of the pre-selection meeting discussions, so it is not helpful to make those sort of comments.
"Luke, I suspect, like a lot of other players of his age and wealth of experience, having been given a sniff at All Black trial time this year will want to play football."
But when quizzed further on whether McAlister or a representative had made contact with the NZRU about gaining a dispensation from Blues selection, Tew said there had been some discussion.
"He has made an early communication with us as to how he may go about influencing the selection process," Tew said.
"He has not asked directly for a release."
White was being equally careful with his information. "I do not want to make any comment.
"I have not received any official communication with the NZRU, I have heard about it [an exemption for McAlister] through the grapevine, but nothing to substantiate it."