Last Updated: 12/07/20 9:13am
Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has urged New Zealand to be strong in their negotiations with Australia over the future of Super Rugby.
Super Rugby was halted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of the southern hemisphere competition is currently being discussed.
Earlier this week, Rugby Australia (RA) chairman Hamish McLennan said their New Zealand counterparts are trying to dictate the terms of a possible trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, amid reports NZR are seeking to limit the number of Australian teams involved.
Hansen said he felt that New Zealand Rugby should be doing what was best for their rugby players and insisted they owe Australia no favours.
“Without being controversial, we have been looking after the Aussies for years,” Hansen told Stuff Media on Sunday.
“And every time we have required something from them, particularly at a high level, sometimes they have gone missing.
“Do we owe them something? No. But because we are the nation we are, and we care about the game more than just ourselves, we bend and buckle a bit.
“I think NZ Rugby are in the mood for having strong discussions because they only get one shot at it.”
Much of the fallout has centred on the composition of Super Rugby from 2021, with both countries reportedly keen on exploring a trans-Tasman competition rather than reverting to a tournament that involves teams from South Africa and Argentina.
McLennan told Australian media this week that a leaked report suggested NZR’s preferred option was to have just two or three Australian sides in a trans-Tasman competition.
Hansen said what was most important was not to dilute New Zealand’s player pool with more than five teams and to minimise travel for the welfare of the players.
“You have got to start with what do you want out of it? Rather than, ‘OK, we are going to have this competition,'” Hansen said.
“It has to be really competitive and produce world-class players. If you allow it to become watered-down, there is too big a gap between Super Rugby and test rugby.”