Rugby: Lions payment set at $127,000 a player for NZ tour

By Steve James

Lions coach Warren Gatland said he thought All Black Aaron Smith is the world's best player. Photo / Matthew Impey
Lions coach Warren Gatland said he thought All Black Aaron Smith is the world's best player. Photo / Matthew Impey

The British and Irish Lions players are set to receive 70,000 ($127,000) each as their basic fee for the tour of New Zealand next year - a 40 per cent rise on the 50,000 ($90,500) they were paid for the tour of Australia in 2013.

In addition, they can expect an increase in bonus money for winning after picking up nearly 25,000 ($45,200) a man for taking the series in Australia.

Contracts will be agreed in the coming months but Lions chief executive John Feehan has admitted there will be significant increases.

"Yes, that is a very reasonable assumption," he said. "If there is one thing that is certain in life, it's taxes, death and increasing wage bills for a Lions tour.

"We believe it's a pretty chunky number and we don't think the players should have anything to worry about as far as that's concerned.

"The thing about a Lions tour is that all players are treated exactly the same," he said. "Unlike a union or club, players are paid exactly the same whether they play or they don't play a game, all three tests or no tests.

"The reason for that is, with what the brand is all about, it's about the best of the best. As importantly, we have six weeks from when the squad is announced to getting signed contracts back. You don't really have time to negotiate individually so you have to have a pro-forma contract."

The Lions also have to pay each of the four unions a fee of 70,000 for each player they provide as compensation for their unavailability for summer tours.

With so much negative talk about the punishing schedule, Feehan confirmed the Lions would compensate clubs should any of their players be injured.

"Nobody is disadvantaged by going on a Lions tour in terms of money," he said. "If a player is injured on tour we take full responsibility."

Meanwhile, Lions coach Warren Gatland said he thought All Black Aaron Smith is the world's best player.

"I think there's one player in particular who is the driving force and the key, and that is Aaron Smith. I just think he's the best player in the world at the moment."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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