TODAY |

NZR confident game-changing deal will be secured despite players' concerns

It's a game-changer for New Zealand Rugby, but the governing body still faces a major hurdle in getting the nearly half-billion dollar offer by an American private investment firm over the line.

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A private investor is looking to put nearly half a billion dollars into the game here. Source: 1 NEWS

NZR's board has discussed the latest issues with the Silver Lake deal, including the professional players stance on the offer at yesterday’s monthly meeting before CEO Mark Robinson approached media today.

Robinson delivered a clear message to rugby across all levels, unions, clubs - all involved in the game from professional to grassroots.

“Please, ask the questions you need to ask,” he said.

“Let's have good, open, honest discussions around this, but let’s not lose sight that the game needs to change.”

1 NEWS understands the provincial unions have pretty much agreed to it, with a firm proposal set to be presented at the annual general meeting in four weeks.

Before then, though, there’s still one sticking point — the players.

The New Zealand Rugby Players Association has threatened to block the deal, saying New Zealand rugby's Māori and Pasifika culture is "not for sale", and it is worried a deal could ruin the sport's relationship with fans.

The stance came from a letter written earlier this year which was signed by David Kirk, the 1987 All Blacks World Cup-winning captainand NZ players association chief executive Rob Nichol and All Blacks captain Sam Cane, Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith, Dane Coles and Black Ferns Sarah Hirini and Selica Winiata.

Robinson told media today he has spoken to the players involved since the letter was written.

"I've had the opportunity to speak with some senior All Blacks and I think they remain open-minded to what is being proposed at this stage.”

The Players' Association has made comment confirming mediation starts with the union tomorrow, where they say they're committed to finding solutions. They’re also confident the process will work, after using mediation in the past.

The players' long-term collective agreement is also up for renewal and is being negotiated at the same time.