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Finance Minister Grant Robertson says no one has asked him to pay higher subsidies to stop the All Blacks being lured offshore.
Robertson, who is also Sports Minister, told NewstalkZB tonight that All Black coach Steve Hansen was “doing what he does best, which is advocating for his sport and his team” when he said on Saturday night that the team needed financial support to stop players being paid big money to play overseas.
Hansen said he had raised the issue when Robertson and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the All Blacks’ successful Bledisloe Cup match at Eden Park.
But Robertson said: “No one has put that proposal in front of us.”
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said the organisation was spending $5 million to $7 million a year more than it earned, and 36% of its costs were to pay the players.
“If that 36 percent is under pressure because the price of our players in the international market continues to escalate, with no real science behind it other than just these very wealthy club owners wanting to have the best team, then that’s a pressure point,” he said.
“Frankly, I had the same conversation with the Prime Minister and minister myself in the grandstand. If our team, and our talent is important to New Zealand, then sitting down with the Government at some point and time about what we might do together is useful.
“In fact, we’ve already got a number of partnerships with government agencies; we have a high performance relationship with High Performance Sport NZ, a decent chunk of that is government funded.”
Tew highlighted Beauden Barrett, who has reportedly been offered $3.4 million a year to join a French club after next year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan/
But Robertson declined to say more on the issue, instead noting that the Government had “a great relationship with NZ Rugby around growing the grassroots game”, including developing women’s rugby.
“The All Blacks are an amazing team and one that we should all be proud of, but that’s not something we are considering,” he said.
A New Zealand Herald online poll asking “Should the Government give NZ Rugby money to keep top players in the country?” is running at 70% against and only 30% in favour.