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Another Blues departure sparks concern from former NZR chief

By Ned Lester
Tom Robinson joins the Blues huddle. Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Reports that claim Blues utility forward Tom Robinson has taken up a contract in Japan for 2024 have left former New Zealand Rugby CEO David Moffett deeply concerned over the direction the game is heading.


The New Zealand Herald reported on Tuesday that Robinson, who has previously acted as Blues captain, has signed with Toyota Verblitz for 2024, with Sir Steve Hansen involved in the recruitment of the 28-year-old. He joins Beauden Barrett and Aaron Smith at the club.

While not a consistent starter, Robinson’s departure deals a huge blow to the Blues as his experience, leadership and multifaceted skillset have contributed mightily to the team and their culture during their return to competition heavyweights.

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Having added Robinson’s name to the evergrowing list of All Blacks and Super Rugby stars taking their talents offshore, Moffett says the exodus will affect more than just the top levels of the game.

“It’s not good because it affects every tier of New Zealand rugby, from clubs all the way up,” Moffett told SENZ Afternoons.

“We have a look now, for example, the All Blacks never play NPC and that’s degraded the NPC.

“They never play, well they play obviously in Super Rugby but a lot of them, they start late in Super Rugby.

“That’s my biggest concern is that the more the players go, it’s not so much the All Blacks, but it’s those players playing Super Rugby, and the more of those players that go, the more it’s going to affect Super Rugby.


“I don’t think we have a conveyor belt any longer, to the extent that we used to in the past because of a variety of reasons, but it is a concern.

“When we started Super Rugby back in 1995-96 and I was there at the very beginning of all of that, we actually used to have conversations about how could we not affect club rugby as much with Super Rugby.

“Of course, that changed and they went to 18 teams, they went to playing over an extended period of time so club rugby completely got washed away by Super Rugby.

“That has pretty much happened with the NPC. The NPC for example in Australia … they’re very envious of it, because what it does is brings the players up through another level.


“If all of these players are going to be going, that is the area (that will suffer).”



The problem isn’t just limited to the players either, Moffett also shared concern over the recent All Blacks coaching selection process as he suggested a lack of candidates was masked by the selection of fan favourite Scott Robertson.

“There is one other thing too that I’d like to mention and that is the drain of coaches,” he added.

“The number of coaches coaching overseas who could actually be in the All Black coaching frame in future years is massive.

“You can’t lose all those good coaches.

“Razor’s (Scott Robertson) just been appointed and I’ve always thought that was a good idea to appoint him but outside of that … Jamie Joseph was the only other applicant.

“All the others are overseas or they didn’t want to coach, for whatever reason, the All Blacks, so the question is, if Razor and Jamie Joseph weren’t in the frame, where are the other coaches coming through in New Zealand?

“They’re all overseas, a lot of these good young coaches and they’re going over there because they don’t really see (a future in NZ).

“They can get a lot of money over there, just the same as the players. I’m sure that players are going to Japan for the money and it’s a great experience, but the money that they’re offering will be a great attraction.”


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