Rugby: McAlister appears sold on Sale move

By Wynne Gray

How can NZ hold on to its best sporting talent? Send us your views Read your views

Twenty years ago Luke McAlister tagged along to Manchester as his father took up a professional sporting contract.

Shortly, it seems, the roles will be reversed with McAlister joining the All Black exodus to the Sale rugby club while his father picks up a subsidiary club coaching role.

McAlister's post-World Cup exit will come on top of overseas deals for Aaron Mauger, Byron Kelleher, Chris Jack, Carl Hayman, Anton Oliver, Greg Rawlinson and Rico Gear from those players picked this season for the All Blacks.

Reports coming out of the UK suggest McAlister's £250,000 ($654,000) a year deal has been completed with an academy coaching role for his father but McAlister, while not hiding his intentions yesterday, said neither piece of information was correct.

"Not true," he said. "I am seriously considering Sale," he added.

"I have not made a decision on what I am doing, which I will make in the next couple of weeks and I am sure you guys will be the first to know."

He had narrowed down his choices to Sale or New Zealand and from his careful choice of words yesterday it appeared the English club had triumphed.

The 23-year-old said he had recent talks with the "big cheeses" from Sale.

McAlister did not know what his father was contemplating although he confirmed his father was his manager. There was no piggyback package deal that he knew of.

He confirmed he had turned down offers from the Toulouse and Biarritz clubs in France and Leicester in England. He was more interested in playing rugby in England and specifically around the Manchester area where he spent a decade as his father Charlie played league for Oldham.

"I just think Sale is more appealing, the language obviously would be a big thing, the fact that I have been to Manchester before I guess helps."

The midfielder said he was not worried about his rugby future in New Zealand if he took up an overseas deal.

He wanted to play overseas, it was just a matter of picking the best time. The four-year World Cup cycle meant it was next season or 2012 and McAlister did not sound yesterday as though he was prepared to wait until another World Cup rolled by.

"You only get one shot at it and I want to make the most of my rugby career and do things. Let's say I do not want to play in New Zealand for the rest of my life, I don't want to go overseas when I am 30, I want to go when I am younger and experience the world and experience some different lifestyles."

McAlister said if he went, he did not expect to walk straight into the All Blacks on his return. He had thought about the issue for some time.

All Black coach Graham Henry had tried to persuade him that his rugby career would be best served with more time in New Zealand.

"There is a chance I could stay but it would be fair to say it is not the favoured [option]."

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 19 Apr 2014 20:56:19 Processing Time: 1614ms