The All Blacks are developing their very own brain-drain dilemma but coach Steve Hansen says he's keeping a cool head for now.

Coaxed by the prospect of significantly higher wages in Europe, a horde of fringe and semi-regular All Blacks have given up on their starting-Test ambitions to head overseas - from the already-departed Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Cruden and Charlie Faumuina to the soon-to-exit Lima Sopoaga and Seta Tamanivalu.

By playing overseas, they disqualify themselves from Test selection.

And while the rot hasn't yet spread to starting Test stars and stalwarts, Hansen admitted the market for Kiwi players was in overdrive.


New Zealand Rugby, in response, could simply not afford to match European or Japanese salaries, despite doing their best to boost revenues.

"We're very fortunate to have a talented pool of people but the downside is that everyone wants to come in and buy them," Hansen said.

"It's the old adage, we want to develop one but we have to develop four - one for us and one for each of those other environments.

"It hasn't got to the point where it's disastrous - the contracting people are doing a magnificent job and the rugby union are supporting us magnificently, and there's (still) a massive desire to keep pulling on the black jersey.

"While that's there, we'll keep coming out on top on the talent side."

Hansen admitted that, based on the current global market, his Test-level players could do with a pay rise but said it would be hard to deliver.

New Zealand Rugby have already agreed to tip an additional $70 million into player payments through to 2019 as part of their collective agreement.

That pool also includes $25 million for the retention of key All Blacks.


"There has to be a reality at some point, what can we afford and what can't we afford? We're not a big country, how do we raise that money?" Hansen said.

"Everyone thinks New Zealand Rugby has all this money - well it doesn't (and) we've got to fight for every dollar we get and spend it wisely."

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