New Zealand rugby boss Steve Tew has admitted that Australian Rugby’s poaching of Daniel Braid remains a touchy subject and one that could have a knock on effect during the negotiations over the expansion of Super rugby.
Speaking to Radio Sport Tew said that the signing of Braid by the Reds had taken the New Zealand union by surprise.
Super14.com reports that Braid was the first foreign signing by an Australian team since the new rules were introduced by the ARU to allow marquee players.
New Zealand is already “under siege” with many of their players leaving the nation to play in the UK, France and Japan and now Australia has joined the trend.
“Certainly our eyebrows have been raised and words have been spoken with our counterparts in Australia about Daniel Braid,” Tew told Radio Sport.
SANZAR (South Africa, Australia and New Zealand rugby unions) meet on Wednesday this week and will discuss the way forward for tournaments such as the Super 14 and the Tri Nations and the expansion thereof.
“It might well have an effect on how we look at expansion,” added Tew referring to Australia’s plans to add another team to the Super14.
Australia want a fifth team but that move is dependent on all three countries – Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – agreeing on that under Sanzar rules.
Tew said there was “no difference” in losing players to Australia or to northern hemisphere clubs. “Once we’ve lost them, we’ve lost them,” he added.
“We didn’t want to lose Daniel.”
The NZRU chief executive confirmed the move to expand the Super 14 to a Super 15, with conferences, for 2010, with the extra team to go into the Australian conference.
“That might be an Australian side, it might not,” said Tew.
“It could be a Pacific Islands side, it could be a US side or it could be a Japanese one.
“We’ve got to go through that process. But rather than saying it’s an Australian team, we’re saying let’s see what Sanzar requires, let’s see who’s out there and Sanzar can make a decision about the fifth team.”
ARU boss John O’Neill said yesterday that the fifth team (if it goes ahead) could come not from Australia but from Japan as the current global economic downturn is putting pressure on Australian business and a fifth team could become a financial burden.
Tew added that the decision would be made “with an eye to the future” but at this stage was still a work in progress.
He added that discussions with the “critical paymaster”, (the broadcaster) would be vital as any expansion of the Super 14 would have to make sense in financial terms.Tweet