28 Aug 2018

Taxpayers asked to pay to keep All Blacks in NZ

6:13 am on 28 August 2018

New Zealand Rugby boss Steve Tew has again raised the issue of government funding to keep top All Blacks from going overseas

Player payments were causing "pressure" on rugby finances, Tew said.

The Barrett brothers Jordie, Scott and Beauden will again lineup in the All Blacks starting fifteen.

The Barrett Brothers (Jordie, Scott and Beauden). Photo: Photosport

Both NZR boss Tew and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen spoke to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and Minister of Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson, at the weekend's Bledisloe Cup test in Auckland, and highlighted the increasing challenge of retaining players in the face of cash-rich clubs from the Northern Hemisphere.

The overseas deals are becoming more and more lucrative, with All Blacks first-five Beauden Barrett, who starred in Saturday's win over the Wallabies, reportedly offered $3.4 million a year to join a French club after next year's World Cup.

Tew told reporters today that NZR spent more money each year than it made, with 36 percent of their expenditure going on player wages.

The financial assistance from the government may be needed if New Zealand wanted to keep its top talent at home and in the black jersey, he said.

"We [NZR] continue to spend on average between $5 [million] and $7 million a year more than we earn. Thirty-six percent of our costs that are fixed go to our professional players," Tew said.

"So if that 36 percent is under pressure because of the price of players in the international market, that continues to escalate with no real science behind it other than just these very wealthy club owners wanting to have the best team, then that's a pressure point," he said.

"We've already seen speculation in the media about what Beauden Barrett might be worth in France. So all Steve [Hansen] did is, and I had the same conversation with the prime minister and minister, was suggest that if our team [All Blacks] and our talent, then sitting down with the government at some time and talking about what we might do together, is useful."

Tew said NZR already worked with government agencies, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Tourism New Zealand, on projects where the New Zealand brand could benefit from association with the All Blacks.

When asked for comment on the discussions he had with New Zealand Rugby Mr Robertson would only say:

"It was a great night for the Black Ferns and the All Blacks and Steve just saw an opportunity to do what he does so well and that's push for his sport."