Last Updated: 12/07/20 9:13am
Former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has urged New Zealand to be strong inside their negotiations with Australia on the future of Super Rugby.
Super Rugby was halted in March because of 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 attempting to dictate the terms of a possible trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, amid reports NZR would like to limit the number of Australian teams involved.
Hansen said he felt that New Zealand Rugby should be doing what was most readily useful 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 now have required something from them, specially at a higher level, sometimes they have gone missing.
“Do we owe them something? No. But because we’re the nation we’re, and we care about the overall game more than just ourselves, we bend and buckle a little.
“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 as opposed to reverting to a tournament that involves teams from South Africa and Argentina.
McLennan told Australian media this week that the leaked report suggested NZR’s preferred option was to own just 2 or 3 Australian sides in a trans-Tasman competition.
Hansen said what was most significant was not to dilute New Zealand’s player pool with an increase of than five teams also 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.”