Sponsorship to lead to lighter workload for ABs

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 11:08 17/12/2012
Steve Hansen
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OPEN AND HONEST: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

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The All Blacks appear set to feel the first tangible benefits of the sponsor's name they now wear on their chests with an extra test in Europe next year unlikely.

The massive money provided by the AIG deal signed recently has put the New Zealand Rugby Union in a comfortable position to plot the way forward for the All Blacks' defence of the World Cup in England in 2015.

The NZRU have relied on increasingly lucrative deals with Wales and England in recent years for one-off tests that have fallen outside the official IRB window as a way of boosting their coffers.

But that may be put on hold next year as the NZRU reviews the just-completed All Blacks season where Steve Hansen's side played 14 tests, winning 12, drawing one and losing the finale to England at Twickenham.

Player welfare and management continues to be a hot topic and while Tew stressed there would be no "knee-jerk reaction" to the loss to England he admitted next year's All Blacks schedule might not be quite so taxing at the end of the year.

It was a case of looking at the best way forward and now being in a position to choose that option without so much financial pressure.

Hansen's position was also part of the review and a report on his first season in charge would be tabled at the next board meeting in February.

Tew said there was a general feeling that Hansen had done well and that the All Blacks had fulfilled Richie McCaw's pledge to play rugby befitting their world champion status.

On a personal note, Tew felt Hansen had also done well with his public image given the demands of the position.

Meanwhile, the new players' collective bargaining agreement remained stalled. There were hopes it would be signed off before Christmas but it will now drag on into the new year.

Tew said a confidentiality agreement prevented him revealing what was holding the process up while the bargaining process was being done.

The NZRU were making good progress with their shift of HQ in Wellington and Tew said this would coincide with a new livery being revealed for the orgnisation.

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