It's all so routine these days - promising player starts contract talks with New Zealand Rugby and, a few weeks later, he signs.

That's why there was so little fanfare or surprise when it was announced last week Ardie Savea, one of the hotter properties in New Zealand rugby, had committed for two more years.

There's rarely a hitch these days when the national body make it clear they want a player to stay in New Zealand. Joe Moody and Sonny Bill Williams were relatively straightforward negotiations earlier this year and the same will likely prove to be the case with Beauden Barrett.

Rarely in the past two years has there been a deviation, a case when NZR weren't able to keep a player they really wanted.


Charles Piutau is the exception and to a lesser extent Colin Slade but, with nearly 200 Super Rugby players on the books, losing just two is a near miraculous result.

Player retention is a complex business. It's always a mix of playing opportunities, coaching staff and high performance set-ups, their welfare and how much others will care about it and, of course, money.

All of these elements have to be right or players won't stay - not in the numbers they are and events across the Tasman are testament to that.

In the past 18 months, Australia has lost, or will lose, 32 recent Wallabies, many of whom would be considered first-choice picks. That list includes Will Genia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Toomua, Dave Dennis and Kurtley Beale. Briefly next year they will also lose David Pocock to a sabbatical.

Other recent Wallabies who are already or are heading offshore include Drew Mitchell, Mat Giteau, Quade Cooper, Nic White, James Horwill, Joe Tomane, Mike Harris, Liam Gill and Greg Holmes.

In trying to find answers to why Australia's Super Rugby sides are struggling the way they are, there's probably no need to look much further than this exodus.

Some could point to the loss of the Golden Generation - Richie McCaw, Daniel Carter, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock - and say New Zealand has suffered a major cleanout. But all of those great players had reached the end of their time, which is a different scenario to losing players with plenty more still to give.

The real picture is this: in the past 18 months, New Zealand has lost or will lose nine recent All Blacks to offshore contracts - Piutau and Slade, Jeremy Thrush, Ben Franks, Tom Taylor, Frank Halai, Francis Saili, Victor Vito and Cory Jane.

It hardly compares. Nine players, most of whom had a solitary or limited number of caps and a couple such as Franks and Jane who were pretty close to the end of their careers, against 32.