It's hard to know how seriously All Black coach Steve Hansen's suggestion that the Government top up his players' salaries was meant to be taken.

Perhaps someone challenged him to come up with a more outrageous case of crying poor than the recent attempt by Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux to tug at their fans' heart- and purse-strings.

Whatever the reason, he certainly got some traction with it.


Devotion to the national team is so great in some quarters that if All Blacks Inc had set up a page for the team it would have probably been oversubscribed before you could say "pull the other one".

There was no shortage of otherwise sane people willing to agree that throwing money at an already affluent if tiny demographic was a good idea.

It's all about national pride, you see, which depends on being the best in the world at a sport no one else in the world cares about. To keep that up we have to make sure top players stay here. But to hear some tell it, they're fighting off Frenchmen and Japanese pimps bearing nine-figure offers on a daily basis.

There's no question that top All Blacks could earn way more money overseas. But then there are a lot of people living and working happily here who could earn a lot more overseas: in the sciences, the professions, the arts and, yes, even business.

They stay here because they have their priorities right. They know a turangawaewae matters more than a Maserati.

They love their country and the good things about living here, all of which money can't buy. They love our unique bicultural environment, our natural environment, our residual belief in egalitarianism and our very strict gun laws, among other things.

It's open to question whether young men who grow up to be All Blacks will have grasped all this. If you've been treated like a demi-god since your days on the first XV, thanks to a talent that is an accident of birth, then you may not have had the opportunities to mature that others have.

And if we add buckets of money to that already volatile mix the results can be disastrous.


Does someone wanting these men to have more money have their best interests at heart? Too much money can be bad for our emotional and mental health. Look what sort of people the bottomless purse has made of some international sportsmen.

To pick a few examples of people with whom, apparently, our players deserve to be on a par: there was the time Diego Maradona shot and wounded a journalist; or the time footballer Jack Wilshere spat at a taxi driver who refused him a ride because he was off duty; or the time footballer Joey Barton stubbed a – no doubt expensive – cigar out in a teammate's eye; or the time footballer (yes, again) Jermaine Pennant left a Porsche at a railway station in Spain because he forgot he owned it.

Sound scientific studies confirm that winners have their perceptions skewed. In one experiment involving a game whose winners and losers (unknowingly) were chosen at random, rather than on how they played, the people who were told they had won said they were willing to pay more for a selection of luxury items the researchers showed them than losers were.

"The researchers argue," said one report "that one way in which winning leads to conspicuous consumption is through an enhanced sense of entitlement among winners, the feeling that, as winners, they are more deserving of preferential treatment than others."

If you really love the All Blacks, encourage them to stay the relatively nice guys they are. Please don't give them any more money.