Still a number of All Blacks without a contract
The rugby stakeholders in New Zealand have had a particularly tough time of it in 2020 and from a a financial stand the Coronavirus pandemic has hit the five Super Rugby franchises, the 23 provinces and clubs across the country hard. This of course has had a flow-on effect on contract negotiations.
Despite all this NZR has managed to lock in some of the best of New Zealand’s talent in new contracts which should see them staying in the country for the foreseeable future.
In the lock department Patrick Tuipulotu (Blues & North Island captain) signed his contract in the early stages of Super Rugby Aotearoa committing himself to NZ until the 2023 world cup. His three other All Black counterparts that went with to World Cup 2019, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Scott Barrett are also locked in for the same time period
The countries midfield stocks have been bolstered and are looking far rosier than they did this time last year with Anton Lienert-Brown and Braydon Ennor signing new contracts ensuring their commitment to New Zealand until France 2023.
Of course if you factor in the pre-COVID long-term signings of Beauden & Jordie Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Joe Moody and Sevu Reece then New Zealand retain a healthy amount of players that did duty for them in last years world cup and are guaranteed (injury permitting of course) to be available to the All Blacks for the next major tournament.
With the likes of Hoskins Sotutu and Mark Telea signing on until 2022 it also gives New Zealand some broader choices in up-and-coming young stars to choose from.
Now with that all being said there are still plenty of players who haven’t made their intentions for the future clear as yet. They’ve either not signed or at least the details of their signing hasn’t been announced or perhaps they’ve already committed to play elsewhere – we’ll just have to wait and find out.
During this pandemic interrupted season professional players, coaches and administrators have all had to face pay-cuts, which means that men who have donned an All Black jersey in the recent past may be considering their financial futures and are looking at new pastures to further their careers and wealth a little earlier than has formally been the custom.
What of the players though that seem to have slipped through the cracks?
Players such as Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta’avao and Vaea Fifita all still have so much they could offer New Zealand but their futures are unknown at this stage. Perhaps they’re considering if now is the right time cash in on all the mileage they’ve accumulated over the years?
Chiefs props, Laulala, Ta’avao and Atu Moli have all had their fair share of injuries this season but even though the franchise has gone through what is probably their worst domestic season ever under new coach Warren Gatland, surely it’ll be desperately hoping to retain the trio in an attempt to right the ship for next season? All three players contracts are set to end at the end of 2021, will they still be there in 2022?
Loose forwards Fifita and Gareth Evans are in the final year of their contracts with no hint of what they’ve decided to date. Fifita, best known for his rampaging run against Los Pumas in 2017 when he burst onto the All Black scene has struggled for game time with the Hurricanes this season while Evans has been niggled with injury.
Elsewhere around the country Chiefs Luke Jacobsen must surely be close to resigning with NZR while Dillon Hunt has still to announce his intentions.
If we look at the backs – Crusaders Mitch Drummond, Brett Cameron and Jack Goodhue all come off contract next season. Although it’s expected that all three will likely be retained what a massive loss Goodhue would be if he considered moving elsewhere!
So while the bulk of the recent All Blacks seem set to continue plying their trade in New Zealand, there are still a number of players who NZR will be negotiating with fiercely to keep the All Blacks – and Super Rugby – strong.
Departing: Matt Duffie.
Contracted until 2020: Nepo Laulala, Angus Ta’avao, Atu Moli, Vaea Fifita, Luke Jacobson, Gareth Evans, Dillon Hunt, Mitchell Drummond, Brett Cameron, Jack Goodhue.
Contracted until 2021: Codie Taylor, Dane Coles, Asafo Aumua, Nathan Harris, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Shannon Frizell, Sam Cane, Ardie Savea, Akira Ioane, Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara, Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Bryn Hall, Ngani Laumape, David Havili, Damian McKenzie, Braydon Ennor.
Contracted until 2022: Liam Coltman, Joe Moody, Dalton Papalii, Richie Mo’unga, Sevu Reece, Rieko Ioane, George Bridge, Jordie Barrett.
Contracted until 2023: Tyrel Lomax, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett, Patrick Tuipulotu, Anton Lienert-Brown, Braydon Ennor, Beauden Barrett.
Unknown: Josh Ioane.
Source: Rugby Pass