Knowler: Sabbaticals a potent bargaining chip

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:01 29/06/2013
Richie McCaw
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
SMILE: Richie McCaw speaks about his return to rugby.

Relevant offers

Opinion

Super Rugby Team Talk: Lima Sopoaga's last chance to impress, Ben Te'o is a Kiwi Peter FitzSimons: With all the sex at Rio will the athletes have time to compete? David Long: No real winners in Konrad Hurrell's untimely exit from New Zealand Warriors Stoic Steven Adams and his OKC Thunder are now the good guys in wild west Mark Reason: Joseph Parker doesn't have the reach or fear factor to beat Anthony Joshua Marc Hinton: Pregnant pause the last thing Super Rugby needs in schedule shambles Actions are all that matter for the Warriors now Kiwi sevens' team's Rio medal chances a 'lottery' after London loss: Strang Christopher Reive: Ryan Hoffman admits Warriors players lack effort after 26-point loss Finally, Joseph Parker earns boxing credibility with victory over Carlos Takam

Asking players whether they want a sabbatical clause in their NZRU contract can, at times, be a touchy subject.

OPINION: Some are reluctant to go there. Others, like Sam Whitelock, are more forthright.

One thing is certain: it's not an issue that will go away.

If the NZRU are to hold their most influential All Blacks they aren't likely to risk losing them by insisting they keep powering through the Super Rugby and test calendars. Something has to give.

The sabbatical clause remains one of the NZRU's most important bargaining chips.

Either a player signs an overseas contract or continues to offer some value to New Zealand by going on holiday or topping up their earnings on a short-term foreign contract for the sort of coin the NZRU cannot match.

Dan Carter and Richie McCaw have been there. Conrad Smith will take a break at the end of the year. Keven Mealamu returned to the Blues late this year following an extended summer off-season.

We are likely to hear more, not less, about sabbaticals ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Kieran Read, who is being groomed to take over from McCaw, could be offered a deal that allows him to take a break after the global tournament.

Whitelock, set to be a central pillar in the All Blacks' quest to retain the Webb Ellis Cup, may want something similar if he wants to play the Lions in 2017.

Getting the balance right is crucial for the NZRU.

The granting of sabbaticals needs to reserved for the game's most loyal, and talented, servants.

The NZRU should make it clear it will never be doled out to a journeyman or a kid who shows immense promise. They cannot be held to ransom.

Super Rugby coaches also need to be respected, and kept informed- not to mention the fans.

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Is Dan Carter still the first-choice No 10 for the ABs?

Absolutely. He's just a bit rusty.

I'm going to sit on the fence.

No way. He's past his best.

Aaron Cruden is the answer.

I'm a Beauden Barrett fan.

Colin Slade is definitely the right choice.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content