Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

All Blacks: Union power play unblocks pay talks

The All Blacks are likely to take the field in Sydney with at least one important piece of work out of the way - the players' collective contract agreement.

The agreement is likely to be announced by the New Zealand Rugby Union over the next couple of days and has been a long time coming - due, mainly, to a sticking point over payment to women's sevens players.

It is understood that the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association refused to enter into discussions with the NZRU until payment for the women was put on the table.

The upshot is that the women, who, like the men's team, will be under pressure to provide New Zealand with a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, will be paid a basic retainer contract of about $30,000, with assembly fees on top of that. Both the men and women are the current sevens world champions.

It is understood that members of the men's sevens team will be allowed to concentrate purely on the short form of the game in the lead up to the Olympics, rather than having to supplement their income by playing in the ITM Cup. To that end they are likely to win improved contracts of between $90,000-100,000. About 15 players are likely to win the specialist sevens contracts.

The minimum amount a Super rugby player earns is likely to rise from $75,000 to $80,000 and an ITM Cup basic contract is likely to improve from $15,000-$18,000.

The AIG sponsorship of the All Blacks has helped make the pay increases possible. The deal, signed in late 2012, is thought to be worth around $16 million a year.


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