Ryan Crotty and Rieko Ioane both reiterated their commitment to the All Blacks today. Fresh off comments this week by former teammate Lima Sopoaga about the amount of money on offer from overseas clubs getting too great to ignore, both men said that the black jersey was paramount.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, because everyone’s circumstances are different, but the black jersey has kept me around for a few years now,” says Crotty.
Ioane says that, as a younger player, being an All Black was a childhood dream come true.
“Just having the opportunity to do that week in, week out, is enough for me.”
That came after coach Steve Hansen was once again questioned over the issue of the All Blacks receiving funding from the government to help retain key players.
Unlike after the Bledisloe Cup win, when his somewhat terse comments sparked off a week of debate over the topic among the media, Hansen was far more measured in his approach today.
“I believe the All Blacks over many years have been a great brand for New Zealand. I think it’s an opportunity for us to take New Zealand to the rest of the world. If the money goes to grassroots and developing women’s rugby, then maybe the money we get from Adidas and AIG can be used to keep players here.”
The All Blacks play the Springboks on Saturday night in Wellington, where they haven’t lost to the South Africans in 20 years.