New Zealand Rugby have long warned their players that offshore clubs can present unique challenges along with the offer of increased salaries, and Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal's bizarre outburst and sacking of former All Black Julian Savea is a perfect illustration of that.

As the organisation face up to the possibility of the trickle of their top players heading overseas turning into a flood, there will be sadness that one of their own has been treated in such a disgraceful manner but perhaps too a useful bargaining chip for them and tangible evidence that the grass isn't always greener.

Boudjellal, an extremely wealthy former comic book publisher, is probably unique in rugby's world of egotistical and publicity-hungry club owners.


He's well known for his nonsensical rants and determination to micro-manage at his club in the south of France. This is the first time he has taken aim at one of New Zealand's own but it probably won't be the last and wing Nehe Milner-Skudder could be forgiven for having second thoughts about signing a contract to play there once the Hurricanes' season is over.

After Toulon's 19-10 Top 14 defeat to Agen last week - their 10th loss of the season – Boudjellal told a French radio station that Savea, who scored 46 tries in 54 tests for the All Blacks, was no longer welcome.

"I'm going to ask for a DNA test," Boudjellal said. "They must have swapped him on the plane [when he joined from the Hurricanes last year]. If I were him I would apologise and go back to my home country."

Savea still has a year left on his contract and has insisted he will stay and continue to play if allowed. But after being played in the midfield (after the departures of Ma'a Nonu to the Blues and Malakai Fekitoa to Wasps) as well as on the wing and being on the receiving end of criticism from the club's supporters, Savea will probably be keen to go.

He will presumably also get a pay-off should he do so.

"This type of carry on from [Boudjellal] won't exactly entice other players to play for [Toulon]," former Australia international Drew Mitchell wrote on social media. "Business or not, you just don't treat [people] like this."

To that, Savea's All Black brother Ardie replied: "F*****g Amen."

Criticising a 28-year-old outside back for not being the player he used to be shows an alarming lack of awareness but that has never been Boudjellal's strength and to say that the 59-year-old is a clown would be unkind to circus professionals.


Last year he was fined $129,000 for "condoning homophobia". He has accused the European Professional Club Rugby of double standards and "lacking morality". He has previously described his team as "rubbish" and has criticised the performances of past players as "shameful" and yet he apparently can't get enough of mixing with players in the changing rooms after games.

He and other European club owners often treat their players as personal playthings to be discarded when their attention is turned elsewhere.

Most New Zealand players – high profile or otherwise – enjoy their time playing abroad for the money and different experiences but there are some horror stories too of their welfare being given short shrift due to the long seasons and unrelenting fixture schedule.

And then there is the just plain lunacy of the type frequently demonstrated by Boudjellal.

If they didn't already know, they've certainly been warned now.