30 May 2015

OPINION: NZ Rugby to be congratulated

6:29 pm on 30 May 2015

Congratulations to the New Zealand Rugby Union for signing up the last couple of pieces to their future All Black puzzle.

All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick and winger Julian Savea have both signed on for another four years, taking them through to the 2019 World Cup.

Brode Retallick (left) and Julian Savea have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby until 2019.

Brode Retallick (left) and Julian Savea have re-signed with New Zealand Rugby until 2019. Photo: Photosport

I don't think gaining their signatures would have been too difficult, expensive yes, but both players were keen to stay.

The 24-year-old Hurricanes winger Savea and the 23-year-old Chiefs lock Retallick, are seen as cornerstone players for the All Blacks beyond 2015, with many current All Blacks set to retire or head overseas after the World Cup.

In announcing the re-sgining of Savea and Retallick, New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew compared their staying in New Zealand on a par with retaining Richie Carter and Dan Carter on four year deals in 2011.

It does complete a team of young players ready to fill that All Blacks side for a while.

With the likes of Tony Woodcock, Keven Mealamu, Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu nearing the end of their New Zealand careers, the stocks of young replacements is growing and in the likes of Retallick and Savea the quality remains.

Retallick is the current world player of the year, while Savea was a finalist and having two players that young at the top of the game is a huge factor in the national side moving forward.

Richie McCaw, Brodie Retallick and Steve Hansen at the 2014 rugby awards.

Richie McCaw, Brodie Retallick and Steve Hansen at the 2014 rugby awards. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Retallick has played 36 Tests already and he's taken the locking position to a new dimension with his open field play and ball handling skills.

Savea has scored 30 tries in 33 Tests and his physicality has made him one of the most-feared wingers in the game.

To me the pair really had nothing to gain as far as their game was concerned by heading overseas, sure they'd fill their bank balances, but there is still plenty of time to do that.

It's a cliche but I do think playing in the best competition in the world and for the best team in the world is what motivates our top players.

There are very few New Zealanders that have headed overseas and come back as better players.

Flanker Jerome Kaino is playing outstanding rugby, he headed north in 2012 to play a couple of years in Japan.

The stint offshore didn't help his rugby, though the standard of the game over there allowed him to take care of his body and return home in reasonable shape, potentially prolonging his career.

All Blacks

All Black Brodie Retallick is tackled by Wales' Alun Wyn Jones. Photo: Photosport

New Zealand Rugby's stance that a player must be playing in New Zealand to be considered for the All Blacks certainly makes it clear cut for anyone considering their future.

Overseas its club play and thats it.... Savea now has the opportunity to mix things up in 2016 with the opportunity to play sevens at the Rio Olympics.

The New Zealand Union has realised that they do have to be a bit more lenient in their contracting of players and make available opportunities like sevens or sabbaticals.

Colin Slade, Tom Taylor and Charles Piutau have confirmed they're leaving later this year and that will always happen for some younger players, especially those who are on the cusp of All Black selection... but there is not a lot more the Union can do.

Having our best players playing here does help with the production line of talent and that incentive of an All Black jersey helps.

There is little doubt this year's Super Rugby competition is throwing up players who should contend for national honours.... Waisake Naholo, Ardie Savea, Mehe Milner-Skudder, Brad Weber, Lima Sopoaga and Akira Ioane.

No matter what happens at this years world cup there won't be any need for a mass cleanout, everything is in place for 2016 and beyond.