So was Steve Hansen being cheeky, or just plain silly, when he asked the Prime Minister for sponsorship money after the big test win last Saturday night?

On the surface, the idea of the Government giving money to the All Blacks is preposterous. New Zealand Rugby (NZR) generated $257 million in revenue last year and made a $33.4m profit.

But that was a Lions tour year.

In 2016 the revenue was $162m and NZR lost $7m.


The reality is that NZR is projecting to lose money annually after 2020 at a level the chief executive has said "we can't live with".

Hansen is right. The All Blacks are New Zealand's biggest brand. Their value is such that multinationals like adidas and AIG want to be part of them.

Yes, the team is firing at the moment and the lure of a Rugby World Cup will keep our star players here till that's over.

But what then?

The Government already pays High Performance Sport NZ (HPSNZ) $35m a year to fund athletes in other sports which can't pay their way.

Because of its status, the national game is essentially self sufficient. Yes, there is some HPSNZ funding for specific projects like Olympic sevens but the government contribution to NZR revenue is a very small piece of their money pie.

However, if rowing and cycling and hockey and a myriad of other sports can get government funding, why shouldn't rugby?

With the utmost respect to Eric Murray and Lisa Carrington and Dame Valerie, what the All Blacks provide for New Zealand in a purely commercial sense is way more valuable than what other world champions and gold medallists do.

But as Hansen wryly noted, there wasn't much conversation with the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance after he raised the subject.

Have Shane Jones' trees and pork barrels emptied the tin?

Women's rugby again proved its popularity on Saturday evening – on television anyway.

The Black Ferns – Wallaroos match kicked off in front of a sparse crowd but one which steadily increased throughout. Estimates were that over 25,000 were in the ground by the end of the match.

But on TV it was a hit again with an audience even bigger than the week before.

Over 250,000 tuned in from 5pm last Saturday – a number that put quite a dent in the 1 News ratings!

The Black Ferns' audience was about half that for the Bledisloe Cup game - a percentage undreamed of only a couple of years ago.

New Zealand's Maria Folau during the Bronze Medal match between Jamaica and New Zealand at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photo / File
New Zealand's Maria Folau during the Bronze Medal match between Jamaica and New Zealand at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Photo / File

It's time Netball New Zealand realised that letting our top players compete in the Australian national league would be the best thing for the game here.

Think of it like this. The Australian league is the strongest domestic netball competition there is. It's like the Premier League of netball. The best players in the world are there.

Geva Mentor and Jo Harten of England, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid and Romelda Aiken of Jamaica, Mwai Kumwenda of Malawi.

What do those players and their countries have in common?

Yep, they've all beaten the Silver Ferns in the past year.

New Zealand needs to have its best players in Australia as well.

Based on current form, there'd only be half a dozen players at most who'd be sought after by the Australian clubs. So it's hardly going to wreck our ANZ Championship.

And have you noticed that the more top international stars play in the Aussie league, the less successful the Australian national team is?

Having four or five others joining Maria Folau next year and mixing it every week with the world's best could only be good for the Silver Ferns.