Kiwi sports stars are cashing in on the speaking circuit - and the British and Irish Lions tour is set to be big business for ex-All Blacks and other rugby high-flyers.

Payments as high as $50,000 to top stars are a sign that success in their chosen arena doesn't just gain them national adoration, medals and full trophy cabinets.

Top of the list is former All Black captain and two-time Rugby World Cup winner Richie McCaw, who can earn up to $40,000 a pop for speaking engagements. And that could go up to as much as $50,000 in the Lions tour, beginning in June.

McCaw was one of our biggest sporting winners in his 148-test career with the men in black - and he is also our highest paid afterwards.


His pay in retirement would easily eclipse the estimated $1 -million he earned a season at the height of his rugby career.

One player agent recently told me McCaw's post-retirement earnings could be $5m-$10m. His commitments for his key sponsors include fulfilling a certain amount of work days for each sponsor, each year.

That may be taking key clients for a chopper ride or hosting at an All Blacks test.

I sent him a text a few months ago about an approach I had for McCaw to fly in on a helicopter to take clients to a Waiheke winery.

Let's just say the money was big. Not a deposit on a house, but the driveway. In typical McCaw style he flicked back a text along the lines of: "Mate, I've got heaps of these requests at the -moment, struggling to find the time."

Other RWC-winning captains John Eales, Francois Pienaar, Nick Farr Jones, David Kirk and Sir Martin Johnson earn up to $50,000 a speech during a cup campaign.

McCaw is on an ever-growing list of sporting heroes collecting a tidy windfall to spin a yarn, tell a few jokes or just inspire. Sources told me All Blacks coach Steve Hansen charges at least $10,000 a speech.

And he recently received $25,000 after a two-day gig for a corporate. Another of the All Blacks' off-field heroes, mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka, also earns up to $10,000 a speech.

Former All Black and Sevens star Eric Rush is one of the best on the speaking tour, pulling in $5000 a night. Do the math on that for 30 speeches a year, a tidy $150,000.

Recent Olympic and Paralympic heroes are also doing well on the speaking circuit.

Medallists Eliza McCartney and Lisa Carrington get $5000-$7500 a pop.

And those wanting to book Liam Malone to hear about his inspirational journey to Paralympic success pay him about $5000 a speech.