All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has responded to comments made by former first-five Lima Sopoaga about a potential rise in young talent heading off shore for big paychecks.
“If they go, they go with our blessings and we’ll always support them.”
Sopoaga caught the global rugby community’s attention yesterday after he said more players were “wising up” to taking big deals in Europe rather than staying in New Zealand to chase the All Blacks dream.
"For a lot of guys like myself, who come from big families, from low socio-economic backgrounds the chance to change your family's life is pretty overwhelming.
"It's not something you should take lightly and sometimes the jersey is not enough for a better life.”
Hansen admitted when he did catch wind of players looking at overseas offers, he tried to convince them to stay.
“We’ll always understand that people are going to go overseas – particularly some of the Pacifika boys who are supporting more than themselves.
“Do we like it? No, I don’t like it when I lose some of the guys that can be a real benefit for the team because my job is to make this team as strong as possible, so I’m going to try and talk them out of it if I can.”
Hansen admitted he and New Zealand Rugby are doing more to try and deter players from heading offshore.
“We don’t have a commercial base like a lot of other places so we’ve got to try and create an environment where the players are well looked after.
“We’ve got to try and prolong their careers so maybe they don’t have to go overseas to get that big lump of money – they could play another four or five years here and get the same money.
“We’ve got to keep thinking of ways and means of keeping this big machine going because it isn’t going to keep going by itself.”