All Blacks coach Ian Foster appears more confident than most that middle ground can be found in the ongoing standoff surrounding the Silver Lake saga, but admits compromise is needed to reach an elusive resolution.
New Zealand Rugby and the Players' Assocation remain at loggerheads over plans to sell a 12.5 per cent stake in the national body's commercial rights to US technology investment firm Silver Lake for $387.5 million.
The Players' Assocation, through their collective bargaining arrangement, continue to block the deal despite New Zealand's 26 provincial unions reaffirming their unanimous support for the Silver Lake proposal on Thursday.
The Players' Association and investment company Forsyth Barr are instead advocating selling a five per cent stake in NZ Rugby's commercial rights via a public share float - an alternate proposal that would raise about $191m-$200m less than the Silver Lake deal by targeting New Zealand investors.
Despite the standoff threatening to cause a major distraction for the All Blacks, with several leading figures on the Players' Association board, Foster is confident a resolution will soon be reached one way of the other and believes the ugly public spat is ultimately good for the game.
"In many ways it's a very exciting time because we've got a game which has got some investment opportunities in front of it and the key is to try and find the right one," Foster said at Eden Park on Friday as the Rugby Championship draw was announced to confirm nine home tests for the All Blacks this season.
NZ Rugby extended the Players' Association an invitation to meet and discuss the Forsyth Barr offer, which valued the governing body's commercial rights at $3.8 billion, on Friday but this has since been delayed until next week.
"We've got some parties that are pretty passionate about their views and I think that's a positive," Foster said. "Everyone is having a big strong debate about what they think is right or wrong so what's important now is we stop delivering headlines about attitudes and start getting round a table and hammer out the content.
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"Both parties seem to be really willing to do that now. I know a lot of progress will be made and I'm sure we'll come out with the right decision.
"I'm not worried about it – I like the fact the players have been strong in their views and they've put a lot of work into that space but at the end of the day you've still got to sit down and a decision has to be made.
"Someone is going to have to move."
Foster is, in many ways, stuck in the middle as he plots the All Blacks season which begins with three tests in July against Tonga and Fiji before the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship commences from August 7.
In an ideal world, the battle over reshaping New Zealand Rugby's broken financial model will be swiftly settled but Foster knows the most pivotal juncture since the turn of professionalism will continue to evoke polarising opinions.
"I was heavily involved in 1996 and everyone was getting a bit tense then, too. There's a lot of emotion and passion about the game here and a few different views about how you grow the game from grassroots up. Having those views aired right now is the right thing because if it didn't, there would be a bit of resentment afterwards.
"Everyone is allowed a view. It's that important. You've got all levels of the game expressing a view which means there's a lot at stake. I'm seeing everyone working in good faith and they all want the right outcome so now it's a matter of sitting round a table."