Beauden Barrett's announcement that he has signed a one-season deal with Japanese club Suntory is not any kind of revelation.
Headlines around the world – most of which are accompanied by wildly inaccurate details about what he's actually doing – give the impression that Barrett has gone rogue and unexpectedly defected in the prime of his career.
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But there's no mystery or element of surprise about his plan. He signed a four-year deal in 2019 that afforded him first an extended non-playing period after the World Cup and then, if he wanted, a second break where he would be sanctioned to skip a season of Super Rugby and play in Japan.
New Zealand Rugby knew his intentions. The Blues signed him knowing the detail of his contract and so what we have now is confirmation not revelation.
It's confirmation of several things – the most important of which is the almost counter productive lengths to which NZR will go to protect and promote the All Blacks on the basis that they are the rugby family's only bread winner.
Almost as much as 80 per cent of NZR's income is generated by the All Blacks and so if that is ever threatened, the national body responds with what it believes are innovative solutions, such as allowing star players to fill their pockets with foreign loot on short-term deals as long as they commit to New Zealand for the longer-term.
Barrett, along with Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick were potentially going to quit New Zealand after the 2019 World Cup and so NZR, fearing the impact their respective departures may have on the All Blacks' ability to keep winning and earning, scrambled compromise deals to keep all three here until 2023 with various offshore interludes built into their contracts.
NZR saw the longer-term retention of all three as a victory, but if it is, then it would have to be classified as Pyrrhic as Barrett and others disappearing to Japan perpetuates the vicious cycle of professional rugby in this country being overly financially dependent on the All Blacks.
And that's because these sabbatical deals confirm that NZR is willing to damage Super Rugby by accentuating the perception it's not a particularly important or worthy competition.
What message does it send when Barrett is able to say, with the full backing of his employer, that it "made sense" for him to play in Japan next year?
It surely made more sense for him to play in Auckland for the Blues and the fact that he's not, confirms that his employer doesn't really care what he does as long as he's back in New Zealand and available for the All Blacks ahead of their test programme.
NZR's general manager of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said that Barrett's deal is great for both player and national body in the long-term, but this only confirms that the latter rarely sees situations through the eyes of the paying fan.
It's clearly not great for Blues supporters, short term or long term, that Barrett won't be playing for the club next year. And it is clearly not great for Super Rugby that he and Retallick will both be missing next season.
When the best players are granted immunity from playing Super Rugby, it confirms to many fans that they should grant themselves immunity from watching it.
The absence of star talent makes it harder to convince anyone they should care. It doesn't go unnoticed that with the exception of Conrad Smith and Ben Smith, each time a leading player has agreed a sabbatical, they time it to miss Super Rugby and not test matches.
Whether that's by choice or they are steered that way by NZR, it only confirms that Super Rugby is viewed internally as the weak link.
It's almost as if senior players earn the right to skip it: they graduate to becoming officer class, exempt from cleaning the latrines.
All this makes it harder for Super Rugby win sponsors and private equity investors and prevents the competition from pulling its weight financially.
Every sabbatical deal NZR allows, makes it harder for Super Rugby to get off the All Blacks welfare system and it is time to end this idea that Barrett heading to Japan is a win-win situation.
It's not. It's a win for Barrett, but a loss for the Blues, a loss for fans and a loss for NZR who are only making it harder for themselves to lessen the game's financial dependency on the All Blacks.