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Fresh player poll results show over half of New Zealand's Super Rugby stars think NZR isn't doing enough to keep Kiwi talent

By Online Editors
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

More than half of New Zealand’s Super Rugby stars believe New Zealand Rugby isn’t doing enough to keep Kiwi talent from heading overseas.


That’s according to a fresh slew of results released from an anonymous poll conducted among “over 100 players” from New Zealand’s five Super Rugby franchises by NZME‘s Sam Casey.

The results from the poll have offered some insight into the real opinions held by a raft of players nationwide about the state of the professional game in New Zealand.

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Since Monday, results of 10 questions per day from the 40-question survey have been released by The Country Sport Breakfast, with the biggest revelation thus far being almost half of the players disagreed with Ian Foster’s appointment as head coach of the All Blacks.

That was followed by Tuesday’s discovery that showed a hefty 44 percent of players viewed All Blacks and Hurricanes hooker Dane Coles as the “biggest grub” in the New Zealand game.

Other interesting findings included Beauden Barrett was regarded as both the best player and first-five in the country, Forsyth Barr Stadium was by far the most popular ground to play at in New Zealand, and Cullen Grace was tipped to be the All Blacks’ next breakout star.


The newest release of results on Wednesday have provided similarly intriguing answers, with perhaps the most concerning for NZR being that 57 percent of players believe the union isn’t doing enough to keep its talent from heading overseas.

The financial might of clubs in the UK, France and Japan have seen a raft of key figures depart New Zealand, plenty of whom have left prematurely or in the prime of their career.

One of the biggest examples of the global economic imbalance came in 2015, when electric All Blacks utility back Charles Piutau turned his back on the Kiwi game at the age of just 23 to sign a contract with Pro14 club Ulster in Northern Ireland.

The deal made 17-test Piutau the one of the wealthiest players in the sport, a status he still holds today with Premiership side Bristol, where he is reported to have become Britain’s first million-pound player.


Numerous other All Blacks have since followed suit in deserting their All Blacks ambitions to sign permanent deals in Europe and Japan.

The concept of sabbatical clauses to play in Japan have also become a common theme in recent times, with Barrett the most recent example.

The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year is set to join Top League giants Suntory Sungoliath next year on a deal reportedly worth $1.5m before returning to New Zealand following Super Rugby.

That move echoes that of fellow international teammates Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

Retallick is still under contract with the Kobelco Steelers until the end of next year’s Top League, meaning he is currently unavailable for the Chiefs.

Whitelock, meanwhile, was due to miss this year’s Super Rugby season after signing with the Panasonic Wild Knights on a six-month contract, but has since returned to the Crusaders after COVID-19 cut short the Top League campaign.

Despite the NZR’s attempts to compromise with players to let them cash in on their talents abroad on a short-term basis before allowing them to keep playing for the All Blacks, it seems the majority of Kiwi Super Rugby stars aren’t happy with the outflow of talent.

Furthermore, an overwhelming 77 percent of those polled said New Zealand players based overseas should not be eligible for All Blacks selection, as is currently the case for those signed on permanent deals with offshore clubs.

Other eye-catching findings from Wednesday’s release from the poll show that 48 percent of players would pick the Highlanders as their destination of choice if they were to transfer from one franchise to another.

Another 58 percent of players believe Super Rugby should have a trade or loan window implemented into the middle of the season, similar to that of European football’s mid-season transfer window in January.

The final release of results from the poll is expected to be released on Thursday.

Here is a full list of the poll results released so far:

Do you think NZR got it right with the new All Black coaching team?

No: 46 percent
Yes: 28 percent
Not assistants: 26 percent

Who is the best player in NZ rugby?

Beauden Barrett: 40 percent
Ardie Savea: 20 percent
Brodie Retallick: 12 percent
Eight others: 28 percent

Who is the best player 23 years of age or under in NZ rugby?

Jordie Barrett: 33 percent
Will Jordan: 22 percent
Luke Jacobson: 14 percent
Sevu Reece: 14 percent
Six others: 17 percent

Who is the best first five in NZ rugby?

Beauden Barrett: 58 percent
Richie Mo’unga: 32 percent
Aaron Cruden: 9 percent
One other: 1 percent

Who is the best winger in NZ rugby?

George Bridge: 46 percent
Sevu Reece: 21 percent
Rieko Ioane: 13 percent
Ben Lam: 11 percent
Four others: 9 percent

Who is the best midfielder in NZ rugby?

Anton Lienert-Brown: 66 percent
Jack Goodhue: 21 percent
Ngani Laumape: 11 percent
Two others: 3 percent

Who is the best fullback in NZ rugby?

Damian McKenzie: 47 percent
Jordie Barrett: 25 percent
David Havili: 18 percent
Beauden Barrett: 10 percent

Two minutes to go, down 4, need to score a try. Whose hands do you want the ball in?

Damian McKenzie: 30 percent
Beauden Barrett: 24 percent
Richie Mo’unga: 10 percent
17 others: 46 percent

Who will be the next breakout star and make the All Blacks?

Cullen Grace: 17 percent
Hoskins Sotutu: 14 percent
Mark Telea: 12 percent
27 others: 53 percent

Who is the best professional coach you’ve had?

Tony Brown: 17 percent
Scott Robertson: 16 percent
Dave Rennie: 9 percent
Warren Gatland: 9 percent
Jason Holland: 9 percent
16 others: 40 percent

Who is the most respected player in NZ rugby?

Same Cane: 24 percent
Brodie Retallick: 17 percent
Dane Coles: 11 percent
Ardie Savea: 10 percent
10 others: 38 percent

Who is the biggest grub in the NZ game?

Dane Coles: 44 percent
Brodie Retallick: 15 percent
Jordie Barrett: 10 percent
Seven others: 32 percent

What player 25 years or under do you think will play 100 tests?

Anton Lienert-Brown: 40 percent
Jack Goodhue: 15 percent
Jordie Barrett: 13 percent
Eight others: 32 percent

Who is the best referee in Super Rugby?

Angus Gardner: 47 percent
Ben O’Keefe: 24 percent
Paul Williams: 22 percent
Three others: 8 percent

Who is the worst referee in Super Rugby?

Glen Jackson: 48 percent
Mike Fraser: 29 percent
Rasta Rasivhenge: 9 percent
Four others: 14 percent

What is the best ground to play at in NZ?

Forsyth Barr Stadium (Dunedin): 61 percent
FMG Stadium Waikato (Hamilton): 18 percent
Eden Park (Auckland): 8 percent
Five others: 13 percent

What is the worst ground to play at in NZ?

Central Energy Trust Arena (Palmerston North): 22 percent
Orangetheory Stadium (Christchurch): 20 percent
Sky Stadium (Wellington): 18 percent
Rugby Park (Invercargill): 15 percent
Four others: 25 percent

What player from another franchise would you sign at yours?

Scott Barrett: 28 percent
Beauden Barrett: 14 percent
Brodie Retallick: 10 percent
Ardie Savea: 10 percent
17 others: 38 percent

Who is the toughest player in NZ rugby?

Sam Cane: 44 percent
Brodie Retallick: 18 percent
Ardie Savea: 7 percent
11 others: 30 percent

Who is the hardest player to tackle in NZ rugby?

Ngani Laumape: 37 percent
Sevu Reece: 17 percent
Mark Telea: 9 percent
Ardie Savea: 9 percent
10 others: 28 percent

Who is the most underrated player in NZ rugby?

David Havili: 21 percent
Gareth Evans: 12 percent
Lachlan Boshier: 10 percent
Bryn Hall: 7 percent
21 others: 50 percent

Who is the best bloke off the field?

Brad Weber: 24 percent
Beauden Barrett: 16 percent
Dane Coles: 12 percent
David Havili: 10 percent
15 others: 38 percent

Does NZ Rugby do enough to keep its talent in NZ?

No: 57 percent
Yes: 43 percent

If you had to leave your franchise, which franchise would you go to?

Highlanders: 48 percent
Crusaders: 18 percent
Chiefs: 16 percent
Blues: 8 percent
Hurricanes: 7 percent
Retire: 3 percent

Should the ‘on-report’ system be introduced to lower the amount of cards?

Yes: 88 percent
No: 12 percent

Is the coverage of schoolboy rugby good or bad for the game?

Bad: 51 percent
Good: 49 percent

Are you happy with drawn matches? If not, what would you prefer?

Golden point: 70 percent
Happy with draw: 19 percent
Extra-time: 7 percent
Golden try: 5 percent

Should Super Rugby have a mid-season trade/loan window?

Yes: 58 percent
No: 42 percent

Should you be allowed to play for the All Blacks if you’re based overseas?

No: 77 percent
Yes: 23 percent


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