All Blacks captain Sam Cane at odds with own agent over NZR’s overseas policy

Dylan Coetzee
Sam Cane All Blacks captain RWC 2023 - Alamy.jpg

All Blacks and Chiefs captain Sam Cane.

Sam Cane’s agent Simon Porter disagrees with the All Blacks skipper over possible changes to New Zealand Rugby’s contract structure.

The flanker, who has recently joined Tokyo Sungoliath on a short-term deal, revealed this week that he feels New Zealand should consider changing their overseas policy.

Cane used the success of South Africa as an example of how opening up selection can be done constructively.

Central contracting

Ultimately, it all boils down to contracting and whether local deals can match the high-powered numbers from France and Japan.

Porter feels that central contracting remains the key solution as it retains a competitive advantage for New Zealand and its Super Rugby Pacific franchises.

“When rugby went professional in 1996, we adopted the central contracting model,” Porter told Newstalk ZB.

“By need more than anything, we didn’t have private money that was potentially on offer from England and France, to come in and make clubland the primary contract holder.

“We went centrally contracted and that meant that New Zealand Rugby were the ones that put up all the money and had all the rights etc. and contracted all the players.

“The one thing in this debate that I think you cannot underestimate or overlook is that, even though we haven’t had success at the last two World Cups in the men’s game, it is still our competitive advantage.”

“The envy”

Porter still feels that New Zealand has the best possible system and used Australia as an example of a nation trying to centralise its set-up.

“We are the envy of a lot of the rugby world in how we contract,” he said.

“We see Australia with their moves. They are trying to centralise, bring everything under the same tent.

“That is basically just trying to replicate what we have. You have to remember it is a competitive advantage and then matching that you’ve got the advancing of professionalism.

“Advancing of players wanting to play around the world in different competitions, and you’ve got those competitions who want the best players.

“At the end of the day everything in sport is a competition for eyeballs.”

The power of the jersey

Holding the selection policy together helps to honour the All Blacks jersey in a way where it means more than money. However, Porter suggests that may not always be the case in the professional game.

“The lure of the black jersey is still very strong, there is no doubt,” he said.

“But what you are also getting is a breed of rugby player where rugby has only been professional in their lifetime.

“They don’t know the stories of the sacrifices or the brown paper envelopes paid in Italy or anything like that. They only know professionalism.

“They are brought up laser-focused on wanting rugby to be what they do, how they make their money, how they can set themselves up.

“This breeds the next question of how do I do that, when do I give up on the dream.”

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