Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Duco insist All Blacks will be at Tens

A promotional ad for the Brisbane Global Tens.
A promotional ad for the Brisbane Global Tens.

Duco Events have not given up hope that top All Black talent will feature at next month's Brisbane Tens tournament.

The Herald revealed today New Zealand Rugby were blocking the release of All Blacks for the tournament, dealing a crippling blow to the organisers.

Several members of the current squad have been used to promote the new event, including Jerome Kaino, Damian McKenzie and Israel Dagg. But their participation in the 14-team tournament appeared to be precluded by a clause in the collective player agreement.

The agreement stipulates players must be given a 12-week stand-down from rugby, ruling out the 36-strong All Blacks squad on the last year's end of season tour.
However, in a statement released yesterday, Duco Events' Australian director Rachael Carroll said the provisional squads submitted by the New Zealand franchises contain 10 players who participated in last year's end of year tour, including "the tournament's contracted ambassador".

The squads are yet to be ratified by NZ Rugby, but Duco are confident the national body will grant dispensations for some players.

"These players have indicated a strong desire to play in the tournament, and their Super Rugby clubs have selected them," said Carroll.

"We are negotiating with New Zealand Rugby in good faith to confirm these selections.
"Final squads from all participating teams are due to be confirmed until early next month. Across the board these will contain a large number of current international rugby stars."

New Zealand Players Association boss Rob Nichol said dispensations to the 12-week stand-down clause are only given if there is unanimous agreement between a player, his franchise and NZ Rugby.


NZ Rugby is clearly the stumbling block as the national body keep in mind the bigger picture for 2017. With the British and Irish Lions touring this year, an emphasis on keeping leading All Blacks fresh takes on added importance.

"At the end of the day they (the players) want to play rugby and if you let them they could play every week until they fell over," Nichol told Radio Sport.

"Duco worked very hard to pull together the Brisbane 10s...they've known from the outset All Blacks on the end of year tour had no obligation to play, and only could if everyone agreed. We have the big picture in mind."

"Maybe franchises were holding out hope some players would play certain parts. I understand there will be none from the end of year tour. Maybe in future...but this year it has proved too much."

The All Blacks have only just begun trickling back into their franchise teams, with the last batch not due to arrive until January 30. The key concern is, while these players will have been working hard in the off-season, they will not be conditioned for the high-impact tens game, heightening the risk of injury.

However, one franchise insider told the Herald for some of the fringe members of the All Blacks squad that did not feature prominently in the end of year tour, the tens tournament could provide valuable match-play opportunities.

It is understood former All Blacks Cory Jane (Hurricanes), Liam Messam (Chiefs) and Rene Ranger (Blues) feature in the provisional squads.


Players involved in the All Blacks' end-of-year 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

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