A new potential suitor has emerged as talks of Beauden Barrett’s post World Cup future heat up.
According to NZME Japan has become a potential landing spot for several senior All Blacks, including Barrett.
While Barrett may opt to stay in New Zealand after the World Cup, lucrative overseas offers could prove too good to pass up.
Spending a year in the Japanese Top League has been revealed as a viable option for the likes of Barrett and fellow All Blacks Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Ben Smith.
“That concept of Japan 2020 comes up in a number of conversations,” New Zealand Rugby head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum told NZME. “It’s not necessarily a real prospect for everybody.”
Japan are still finalising their season structure post-World Cup, with the September tournament pushing the 2019 Top League schedule back to January.
“Generally what we understand is they are looking to run two Top League seasons during 2020 but that’s not confirmed,” Lendrum said. “If they do it seems like there is an opportunity for players to go there and play those two seasons effectively in the space of one New Zealand calendar year.
“From a salary and welfare perspective that has obvious attraction for players who potentially have had long Super or international careers and are looking to refuel body, mind and wallet for maybe another few years.”
A temporary move to Japan would allow Barrett to re-commit to NZR and the Hurricanes long term, in similar fashion to Dan Carter’s Perpignan stint after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Lendrum also commented on how New Zealand Rugby plan to combat the potential player drain, if temporary.
“From a New Zealand Rugby perspective, plan A is to always have players stay and play in our competitions all year round and be available for the All Blacks,” said Lendrum.
“If we had to push for a plan B because plan A wasn’t available due to circumstances of a particular player, then it is true that two seasons in one Japanese prospect is more attractive for us to work with than seeing somebody head out the door to France or England.”
The All Blacks head to Japan later this month for their third Bledisloe Test against Australia and a fixture against the Japanese national side.
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