Rugby: All Blacks won't play at Brisbane Global Tens

By Dana Johannsen, Dylan Cleaver

New Zealand All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg in action against Wales. Photo/Brett Phibbs
New Zealand All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg in action against Wales. Photo/Brett Phibbs

No current All Blacks will be released to play in the Brisbane Global Tens, dealing a crippling blow to the tournament.

The event on February 11-12 is the brainchild of Duco Events, who hope to replicate the success of the NRL Auckland Nines.

In its marketing material, Duco promises the tournament "will see the star players of all 10 Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby clubs".

New Zealand Rugby, however, look to have put a large spanner in the works.

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The Herald understands the national body has instructed the franchises that All Blacks cannot be made available for the two-day tournament as it will be in breach of the players collective agreement.

The agreement stipulates players must be given a 12-week stand-down from rugby, automatically ruling out the 36-strong squad from the Australian tournament.

NZ Rugby's Head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum confirmed the provisions for when the All Blacks can return to play are set out in the collective employment agreement.

Curiously, a number of All Blacks have been used to promote the event, including Israel Dagg, Jerome Kaino and Damian McKenzie. As all were on last year's European tour, it appears none will be lacing up at Suncorp Stadium.

Rachael Carroll, the director of Duco's Australian operations, said she was awaiting the submission of the squads from the New Zealand franchises, but she remained confident there would still be big names to pull in the crowds.

Radio Sport Breakfast: NZ Rugby Players' Association head Rob Nichol

"We've always been well aware that this is a negotiation with NZ Rugby in regards to the player provisions, particularly those that fall under last year's tour. But that relates to people that were on the tour and playing last year. There are a number of All Blacks that are returning to play that weren't on that tour," said Carroll.

"It's a three-way discussion between us, the players and NZ Rugby and they are assessed on a case-by-case basis. We don't have the confirmed squads, because that process is still being worked through."

Players not considered for selection for the 2016 northern hemisphere tour due to injury were hookers Nathan Harris and James Parsons, midfielders Sonny Bill Williams and Charlie Ngatai and outside back Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Williams is still some way off returning to the rugby field after a partial tear of his Achilles at the Rio Olympics. The other four players played just 15 tests between them over the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Despite this, Carroll maintains it will be a "global tournament of stars".

A promotional ad for the Brisbane 10s featuring All Blacks  Israel Dagg, Jerome Kaino and Damian McKenzie.
A promotional ad for the Brisbane 10s featuring All Blacks Israel Dagg, Jerome Kaino and Damian McKenzie.

"We've got 14 teams in this tournament ... you start to get a couple of superstars out of each of those clubs, bolt that all together, you're dealing with 30-plus of the highest profile players from around the world. That's an exceptional tournament."

The Tens has been promoted as a way of reviving the flagging fortunes of rugby in Australia and Queensland in particular.

Last year, the CEO of the Queensland Rugby, Richard Barker, told the Herald it was no secret the code was struggling for traction and he hoped the event would help boost its stocks. The absence of the biggest drawcards in the sport will not help.

It will also be a blow to New Zealand rights holders Sky Sport, who have heavily invested in the tournament.

Players involved in the All Blacks tour

Blues
Charlie Faumuina
Ofa Tu'ungafasi
Patrick Tuipulotu
Jerome Kaino
Steven Luatua
George Moala
Rieko Ioane

Chiefs
Brodie Retallick
Sam Cane
Tawera Kerr-Barlow
Aaron Cruden
Anton Leinert-Brown
Damian McKenzie

Hurricanes
Dane Coles
Ardie Savea
TJ Perenara
Beauden Barrett
Julian Savea
Jordie Barrett
Vaea Fifita

Crusaders
Codie Taylor
Wyatt Crockett
Owen Franks
Joe Moody
Luke Romano
Samuel Whitelock
Kieran Read
Matt Todd
Ryan Crotty
Israel Dagg
Scott Barrett

Highlanders
Liam Coltman
Elliot Dixon
Liam Squire
Aaron Smith
Lima Sopoaga
Malakai Fekitoa
Waisake Naholo
Ben Smith

- NZ Herald

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