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

Rugby: 'Majority' of best players set for Brisbane Tens

The Brisbane Global Tens organisers say they can't guarantee that every All Black will be available to play in the inaugural tournament next February, but there is an agreement that every New Zealand Super Rugby team will send a strong squad and travel with the intention of winning it.

With a six-figure sum available to the winning team, plus a cut going to the successful players, there will be every incentive to do well. At today's launch of the tournament, which will be run by Duco Events, the organisers of the successful NRL Auckland Nines, there was excitement at the prospect from All Blacks including Jerome Kaino and Israel Dagg.

The Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders will all send 18-man squads to the tournament, which will be held at Suncorp Stadium on February 11 and 12 next year, and some will probably take bigger squads and play a pre-season match in the vicinity the following weekend.

"We'll have to judge who is in those 18-man squads based on fitness and return from leave and all those things we manage every year on return to Super Rugby," said Nigel Cass, New Zealand Rugby's chief strategy and operations officer. "That is going to be one of the fundamental things. But what we know is that we will have players across those squads putting their hands up saying, 'I want to be part of this'."

David Higgins from Duco Events said he believed the "majority" of high-profile players would be on show, just as they are in the NRL Auckland Nines.

"We've got a strong undertaking from all the clubs that they're taking their best sides and are coming to win. There are clauses in the contract also that require good faith to field the best possible side, so I don't think there are any worries about player quality," he said.

Australia's five Super Rugby teams will also attend, plus the Manu Samoa national side, and top teams from France, South Africa and Japan.

For Higgins, the announcement followed three years of hard slog and negotiating with disparate, and often very conservative, groups around the world.

"It was a three-year journey, and even two years in - after investing a million bucks - there were times we thought it wasn't going to happen," he said. "There were many roadblocks and it was really a matter of identifying the major stakeholders - the club coaches, chief executives, national unions and players' associations, and lobbying and bringing everyone on board at the same time."

The tournament, which is contracted to run in Brisbane for four years, got a big tick from senior All Black and Blues loose forward Kaino, who intends to be at next year's one. The prize money, he said, was a bonus. A total prize pool of about $1.7million is up for grabs.

"There's a collective agreement that a percentage of the prize money goes to the players, which is good," Kaino said. "That's what the players wanted to know, they're going to get paid for their hard work. It's good, Duco and New Zealand Rugby have done a great job on that front."

But few are as happy as Manu Samoa coach Alama Ieremia, who said it was an honour to represent Pacific Islands rugby.

Ieremia said he hoped to get his best players released from their European clubs in order to try to win the tournament.

"We'll have immediate conversations with the clubs and World Rugby about regulations and releases, because the players are already asking and putting their hands up. We'll be bringing the best team we can for the event," said Ieremia.

"The main goal for me is to really try to win it. It's a huge opportunity for us."

- NZ Herald

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