21 May 2020

New Zealand's not a bad place to finish up your rugby career

6:12 am on 21 May 2020

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles believes Covid-19 could mean fewer top New Zealand rugby players taking up contracts overseas in the latter part of their careers.

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles

Dane Coles Photo: Photosport

The coronavirus crisis has led to several leading Kiwi players returning home, while the pandemic is also expected to reduce the amount they can earn playing in richer, offshore competitions.

Coles, who is back training with the Hurricanes this week, says the player market will be impacted by Covid-19.

"You do appreciate being in New Zealand, especially with what's going on," Coles said.

"We've heard some pretty sad stories of some guys playing in France. They're still in lockdown and their contracts have taken a massive, massive hit.

"I think it will definitely have an affect on people maybe looking overseas in that UK-France kind of market. You might get a few old buggers playing (provincial rugby in NZ) so that'll be good for the provinces.

"New Zealand's not a bad place to finish up your career."

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger agrees that New Zealand might see a few homegrown players returning from Europe, reversing the trend of the last few years.

The Highlanders have already snapped up one All Black after luring outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder from the Hurricanes and Mauger thinks there might soon be more international talent available.

"I think there's definitely potential for players returning from overseas," he said.

"And the reason for that is that the context has changed. The context they thought they were going to has totally changed. Around living circumstances, ability to travel, clubs struggling with payments, all those things.

"All those things are definitely going to influence those decisions over whether they're going to come home to play."