path finders
ugby has been a professional
sport for 20 years, but New
Zealand is kidding itself if it
thinks it has entirely shaken its
amateur past.
There’s money, endorsements, agents
and contract negotiations which give the
illusion of professionalism, but at the core
of the current game is this rather quaint
notion of what a career looks like.
The expectation within administrative
circles is that professional players today
will view the world just as their amateur
predecessors did and aim to give extended
and loyal service.
Maybe not everyone is cognitive of how
they really feel, but unquestionably, there
is this embedded notion that Richie
McCaw and Daniel Carter have shown
their peers the perfect career path.
There is something admirable,
inspirational even about the way these
two have forever been determined to play
test football and devote, in McCaw’s case,
15 years of his life to it.
Staying in New Zealand has worked for
those two. They have become household
brands with an indelible place in history
and the capacity to earn from their status
long after they retire.
Again, not deliberately or consciously,
but those who follow a different pathway
to McCaw and Carter, appear to be judged
for it. Or more specifically, those who are
perceived to have the option of being a
long term All Black and choose not to, are
considered to be making a terrible
Thats the inference – sometimes the
direct message – which comes from the
national body. In a world of innite choice,
it seems players can only make one
without ramifications.
Charles Piutau is the classic case in
point. At 23, he was viewed by the All
Black coaches as a player with a big
present and an even bigger future. He was
all but secured until 2017 until Ulster
came in late with an incredible, almost
ridiculous offer of $1 million a season and
Piutau changed his mind.
He decided that was money he couldn’t
turn down and with that he opened
himself to condemnation. Understandably,
the All Black coaching staff and NZRU
executive were disappointed to be losing a
Young Pacific island PlaYers face comPlex Pressures when it comes to
making career decisions and often their choices are PoorlY understood
bY those running the Professional game. GREGOR PAUL with the storY.
[ path finders ]