Boric reveals motivation for move to Japan
Blues lock Anthony Boric finally unburdened himself with some brutal honesty as he reflected on his decision to turn his back on the black jersey and take up a two-year deal in Japan.
Yes, it's all about the money, Boric told an assembled media posse at Blues training yesterday. That, and the spectre of a brush with a career-ending injury.
Boric confirmed a day earlier that he was heading to the Mitsubishi Dynaboars in Japan at the end of the Super Rugby season, a deal he denied having committed to just weeks ago when questioned by Fairfax Media, but which he yesterday confirmed he'd been presented with at the end of last year.
The 29-year-old All Black World Cup-winner said it had not been an easy decision, but one in the end he felt compelled to make after having nearly a year out of the game dealing with a serious neck injury.
"Money's a big factor, and like a lot of other guys, like [Richard] Kahui obviously, the neck injury changed my perspective on rugby a lot. This time last year I was potentially not going to play rugby ever again, and that was probably a big driving force behind it."
Boric was not revealing the dollars on offer, but said it was "a level up from here". He also felt that money was "the big driver for a lot of players" who are heading to Japan in their droves.
This year Kahui, Lelia Masaga, Ben May, Stephen Donald, Adam Thomson and now Boric have all confirmed moves to Japan, while since the last World Cup All Blacks Isaia Toeava, Sonny Bill Williams, Jerome Kaino, Ma'a Nonu, Brad Thorn and Mils Muliaina have all logged time there.
Boric, who's played 24 tests and made 63 appearances for the Blues, also hoped his time in Japan could prolong his career, and possibly even enable him to take one more shot at the black jersey.
"I'm not saying it's not going to be hard footy, but physicality wise it might extend my career and who knows I could hopefully be back here in a couple of years, all going well."
Asked if money was the No 1 factor in his move, Boric said: "You've got to make the most of it. It's a small window to take advantage of that and with injuries and things like that who knows what might happen."
The 2m tall North Harbour stalwart also revealed that All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had tried to talk him out of the move.
"We talked about it for a few weeks leading up to it.
"He wasn't too keen on me going, but supported my decision, and said hopefully we'll see you back in a couple of years."
A shot at the 2015 World Cup would be the perfect scenario, admitted Boric, but he certainly wasn't banking on it.
"You've got to be realistic, a lot of coaches have spoken about players who head away and when they do come back they find it hard to slip back into the side. It would be a huge challenge but I'm certainly not writing it off."
Blues coach John Kirwan was disappointed about Boric's decision.
"Locks are like a good wine," said Kirwan yesterday. "He's 29. He's just starting to come into his own. That's disappointing but I understand fully. He's had a scary injury he's just come back from and he's reassessed life."
Kirwan, meanwhile, made two changes to his starting XV to face the winless Highlanders at Eden Park tomorrow night.
Jackson Willison replaces Francis Saili to get his first start at second-five while Tim Perry comes in at loosehead prop for Tom McCartney as the Blues look to halt a three-game losing streak.
All Black hooker Keven Mealamu also returns from his early-season break via the bench.
Blues: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Rene Ranger, Jackson Willison, George Moala, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (c), Culum Retallick, Angus Ta'avao, James Parsons, Tim Perry. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Francis Saili.