Three top All Blacks have hit back over claims they short-changed former partners in a bottled water business.

Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Ali Williams have been accused of collecting business contacts from three associates in one company, then dumping them to set up a rival operation.

But Carter and McCaw's lawyer Warren Alcock strongly rejected the allegations yesterday. "I've been advising Richie for 10 years and Dan for about eight, and I have never known them in anything they've done - in life, business or rugby - that hasn't been above the line," he said.

The All Blacks were involved with Patrick Patel, Frank Ruka and Abby Williams. Patel and Ruka have been business partners in a bottled water company called 5 Degrees since 2006.

Companies Office documents show a company called Premium New Zealand was registered in late January, with the All Blacks, Ruka and Abby Williams, who is no relation to Ali Williams, as shareholders. Patel said he, McCaw, Ruka, and Ali Williams attended a company briefing in February where the slogan "5 Degrees - Water for Everyone" was pitched by a marketing company.

A week later a new company called Premium New Zealand Trading Company was formed, with the All Blacks as the only shareholders.

That company sells product under the brand Water for Everyone.

Ruka said the turn of events had left him bitter.

"We'd done this water thing for a long time."

Patel added: "These guys are role models in this country, and this is the way they conduct business? People need to know."

Alcock confirmed the All Blacks had been involved with Patel, Ruka and Abby Williams, but said the relationship disintegrated after the trio became concerned about Patel failing to disclose his bankruptcy and the non-delivery of promised contracts.

"They did have an initial relationship with them ... but, fundamentally, if you're going into business with someone you have to trust them," said Alcock.

Patel said he had disclosed his bankruptcy and disputed Alcock's contracts allegation.

Ali Williams wouldn't comment yesterday.

Dean Hegan, agent for McCaw and Carter, said his charges would also stay quiet.

Lee Wynyard is listed as the sole director of both companies and managing director of the All Blacks' company.

He said the complaints from Ruka and Patel were motivated by jealousy: "I think it's just Tall Poppy syndrome. We're doing well and they probably think there's a buck or two in it."

Alcock said three months of legal threats by Patel and Ruka had come to nought and their going public reflected that: "It's a cheap shot to go to the media."

Patel, who came out of bankruptcy in June, said he had engaged the services of intellectual property QC Noel Ingram, but Ingram downplayed his role: "All I can say is that I've had some very minor involvement, but I've got no current instructions."

- HERALD ON SUNDAY