COMMENT:

If I was in government I'd sponsor the All Blacks in a heartbeat - and I would like to think Steve Hansen would not have had to raise the idea in the first place.

Of course, the problem with the All Blacks and government sponsorship is perception. People who do well don't normally scream for headlines of support.

But that sadly is where so much of government is backwards. Why is government only there for the troubled, struggling and downtrodden?

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Why isn't the mindset as much about success, as it is social ill?

They fund high performance sport, they fund the America's Cup, some argue that sport is so important to the national psyche it should be shown for free on TV.

And that charge is led by the All Blacks. Why wouldn't the government want to be on board with that? Why wouldn't they hitch their wagon to that train?

Rugby, of course, is fluid. It's profitable, but not wildly so. And that was Hansen's point: rugby isn't rich, and it isn't remotely in the same league as the billionaires who can pay whatever they want in Europe.

And traditionally sport funding is about helping sport win, and the All Blacks already do that. So change the outlook, given it's the most powerful brand we have, why don't the government leverage off it?

The irony here being, it's the All Blacks helping the government not so much the other way round. Yes, money would help hold and develop players, but a country whose flag flies as part of the All Blacks is a country getting a monumental amount of bang for buck.

The All Blacks aren't just successful, they're revered. They're bigger than the sport itself, they're iconic.

Governments need that, countries need that. Trade shows, trade deals, getting us front and centre in places where small countries have trouble getting front and centre.

Get Kieran Read and Sonny Bill in the room with the Prime Minister, and you have headlines, leverage, and attention for Africa.

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Make the All Blacks not just sportspeople, but ambassadors, official New Zealand representatives.

Could you tell me Carter, McCaw, Fitzpatrick, or Kirk couldn't have worked well at official level?

See them as more than one-dimensional, utilise the skills they have, not just on the field but off it as well.

They are gold, they are more than gold. Hansen is right, they're our biggest brand.

In a world where government money is so often flushed, this would have a return in spades.