Don't let it go to your head, rising rugby stars warned video

Super Rugby brings fame and fortune with it - but NZ Rugby is concerned about that going to new players' heads.
KAI SCHWOERER/GETTY IMAGES

Super Rugby brings fame and fortune with it - but NZ Rugby is concerned about that going to new players' heads.

On Thursday, Super Rugby's class of 2017 get their first taste of a few bob.

The basic retainer for players is $75,000, which is a comparative fortune when you're 19 or 20.

On Wednesday, though, these young men got a sharp dose of the reality that comes with the money.

"We won't pick dickheads...not any more," New Zealand Rugby (NZR) general manager rugby Neil Sorensen told this country's new Super players, during their induction day at the Poneke Football (CRRCT) Club.

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"We are sick of of people mucking up because they think they are better than they are," he said.

"Don't think you are incredible because you are good at rugby. You are only good rugby players."

Whether they do amount to good people, too, remains to be seen.

But that matters to Sorensen and company. This year's stories about players and strippers, recreational trips to the toilet or sentences for assault that don't satisfy the masses aren't good for the brand.

Playing professional rugby is a privilege and one that comes with responsibilities. Last week some of these young men were largely amateurs, but when Super Rugby contracts start on December 1 and they become walking billboards for their franchises - and adidas - then the expectations change.

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Inspector Ian Saunders of the New Zealand Police has spoken at these inductions for three years. The content hasn't changed in that time, but the relevance has.

Topics such as strippers - and what's appropriate touching and what's not - formed the basis of his presentation, occasionally prompting knowing looks or sniggers from the audience.

There was a distinct absence of those when Louise Nicholas rose to tell her story of sexual abuse suffered between the ages of 13 and 19. Now a survivor advocate for Rape Prevention Education, Nicholas put the question of consent in a whole different light.

Nicholas "connected with each of the boys," Hurricanes hooker Ricky Riccitelli said.

"You could really tell that everyone was getting into it and a 100 per cent focused on what she was saying and it was really cool that someone had that courage to come and talk about something that was so personal to them and the boys all respected that."

 - Stuff

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