Can someone please tell Colin Slade to tear up that overseas contract and stay a while? The French won't mind, it's not as if they have a leg to stand on when it comes to keeping their end of the bargain.

I don't care what it takes - we'll crowd-fund his new Kiwi contract, if he wants. I'll busk, even. We'll roll out a "Concert for Colin". Dave Dobbyn's gonna need the work now the America's Cup ain't coming back.

How can this guy be leaving us now? I could have understood it a few years ago, when he had a broken leg or a broken jaw or when some other part of his skeleton was falling apart, but not now.

Now he's never injured and he's playing every game and he's playing so well he's keeping the greatest of them all out of his starting spot. How could they let him go now?


I'm sure they must have negotiated hard to keep him. I'm sure someone must have said, "Forget the money, Colin, and think of the free sneakers and beer, and The Jersey".

It's almost unbelievable that didn't work. Hell, it used to. But no, Colin is off - his final season of Super Rugby likely to be remembered as the season in which he finally proved to everyone just how good he is.

Of course, let's not get carried away, the sneerers will sneer. For every Colin Slade there's a fistful of fit and fighting teenagers ready to make their mark on the fields of Super Rugby and beyond.

Of course there are. But that mark won't be made in their first season, or their second. Colin Slade has been doing this since 2009. This is his seventh and final season and he's now a rugby avocado - not ready, not ready, not ready, too late.

It's exciting to watch the newcomers get to grips with the demands of this level of rugby - Damian McKenzie is doing a good job of it at the Chiefs - but to me it's even better to watch a seasoned pro make everything click.

Why is Lima Sopoaga suddenly in the All Blacks equation? He's had time in the saddle, that's why.

Why is Colin Slade making more clean breaks than any other first five in New Zealand? He knows when to make them, that's why. And he knows when to pass (more than any other first five) and when to kick (not much).

Of all the rare commodities in New Zealand rugby, talent is not one of them. But it's raw, organic talent, osmotic by nature, nurtured on the playing fields on Saturday mornings.

Talent is not in short supply, but experience is. And experience is the first five's greatest asset.

Slade's departure will open the door for some new breed of rugby wunderkind, but his tote bag will not be filled with seven seasons of navigational charts. By all means put a 19-year old in charge of running the cutter, but don't come crying when you run aground on the reef of defeat.

Who knows? Maybe Slade's current form is purely because of the fact he's laid his cards on the contract table. Maybe, freed from the need to make a decision on his future, he has a clear mind and a clearer purpose.

If that's the case then watching him dismantle the Reds on Friday night was as bitter as it was sweet: sweet for the fact he brought everything to the match - vision, pace, decisiveness and control - and bitter for the fact we'll be watching it all next year not in Christchurch but in Pau.

I remember Colin Slade on his self-imposed exile to the Highlanders back in 2011. He was impatient then, a young player desperate for game time in the number 10 jersey he so urgently coveted.

Injury took care of the impatience, perseverance took care of the rest. By the time he returned to the Crusaders for the 2014 season, he was ready to be the player he wanted to be.

This year, he picked up where he left off. He's not just ready to be the player he wanted to be, he is that player.

What a pity some other club gets all the benefit of that.

Now where's my guitar?