Henry and co. braced for departures

All Black coach Graham Henry has warned New Zealand fans that they could expect a mass exodus of New Zealand players after the Rugby World Cup in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.

Henry cited physical and mental demands on the players, with New Zealand’s rugby faithful ever thirstier for success and the Test programme showing no sign of shrinking.

Carl Hayman, Chris Jack, Byron Kelleher, and Aaron Mauger are all players who have at least a good three to four years left on their careers and could conceivably make a New Zealand squad for RWC 2011, yet have chosen to head overseas in the hope of escaping the home pressures.

At 23, Luke McAlister is also considering heading to Toulouse in France, and Sitiveni Sivivatu and Nick Evans have both been linked with Agen.

“I think ‘Joe Bloggs’ doesn’t understand the pressure the players are under,” said Henry.

“There are huge expectations on these guys. They play 12 or 13 tests a season and they play big Super 14 games – it is big games all the time.

“Not so long ago a guy might have taken six or seven years to win 35 caps, now he can do that in three or four years.

“These guys are totally committed to the All Black jersey but, for some, they take the view that they need to get out from under the microscope. It’s nobody’s fault, it is just the nature of the beast.”

However, the rule about overseas-based players not being eligible for national selection will not be changed, according to Henry’s assistant Steve Hansen, also speaking to the Herald.

“When we’ve got players playing overseas and being available to play for the All Blacks, then we lose our exclusivity of being able to develop players here,” he said.

“Everyone who is staying at the moment is staying because they want to play for the All Blacks, and we just can’t afford to lose our trump card.”

Hansen concurred with Henry that the opportunity for a new and less pressured lifestyle overseas was just as much a factor in the departing players’ decisions as the riches on offer.

“The season overseas is not any shorter, they play just as many games if not more,” Hansen said.

“What is different is that when they play overseas they just play for one team, whereas in New Zealand they play Super 14 and international rugby.

“It’s disappointing to see a quality player like Jacko leave but he’s been a great servant to New Zealand rugby and needed to make this decision based on what’s good for him and his family – and we have to support that.”

“It’s not all about the money. We all know we can’t compete financially and that overseas clubs can offer more money, and that’s the cold hard facts of it. But we still have the lure of the black jersey.”


365 Digital

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