With reports surfacing that high-profile All Blacks could choose to opt out of the Rugby Championship over concerns about the sacrifices they would have to make, Blues hooker James Parsons and Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall have weighed in on the issue on this week’s Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
Travel restrictions would force the All Blacks into a month of quarantine as they leave and return to New Zealand for the competition, which also features South Africa and Argentina and is set to run from November 7 to December 12.
The players would spend up to two months in Australia away from their families, and self-isolation procedures required on return to New Zealand would mean players would be in quarantine on Christmas day away from their loved ones.
“It is a tough one, we are professional athletes and that is our job, but at the same time you’ve got to be a little bit more forgiving around those decisions,” Hall answered.
“In those scenarios, the conversations will be had with coaches and management around what is best for them.
“Family is really important, and making the best decision for your family is first and foremost.”
Many of the All Blacks are young fathers with recent newborns, with star flyhalf Beauden Barrett a recent example. Blues hooker James Parsons offered his perspective, after recently having a newborn child himself.
“I think it is hard because I’m not a 100-tester [All Black],” he said
“I’ll tell you this, I’d give my right arm to play for the All Blacks, I’d go on a 20-week tour, but that is just who I am and what I’d like to do. It is an individual thing. That is not to disrespect my daughter or family, that’s my passion and that’s my job.
“That is what the All Black jersey means to me but someone that has played 100 tests might see it differently.”
Parsons explained that although those are his first thoughts, until the full picture is known many other players won’t have made their minds up. The details are yet to be finalised on many aspects of the proposed Rugby Championship.
“I think the biggest thing that we have got to remember is we don’t know what it looks like yet, the full picture isn’t there.
“Until we have got the full picture, we can talk the ‘ifs, buts and maybes’ as much as we like, but until we know exactly how long the quarantines are, how long away from family, can that family go with, who knows.
“You can’t put the cart before the horse is all I’m saying.”
“Look, if 10 hookers go down, and my head comes right, I’m ready to go coach,” he joked, “if I’m not picked ahead of [Jason] Rutledge I’ll be disappointed!”
Speaking to Newstalk ZB, All Blacks coach Ian Foster refuted claims that some of his players were set to skip the four-team competition, saying that conversations are taking place but no one has decided yet what they will do.
“I read that report yesterday and it was pretty frustrating that those headlines came out without any facts behind it,” Foster said.
“Are we in trouble? No, we’re not in trouble. Are we having conversations with players? Of course we are.
“We’re trying to be responsible employers and talk to a whole lot of players. This is all new to everyone, taking players away for nine weeks where you can’t get back and it’s becoming increasingly obvious it’s going to be hard to bring players over later.
“So it’s a big chunk of time and we’re just working in through with players.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson originally came out in support of the players last week stating that they will support the players decision whatever way it goes.
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