All Blacks prepare for exodus

The New Zealand Rugby Union are expecting an exodus of top-level players following the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Dan Carter was the first high-profile player to commit his future elsewhere, signing a three-year deal with French Top 14 club Racing Métro. With veteran campaigners Richie McCaw, Ma'a Nonu, Tony Woodcock and Conrad Smith nearing the end of their playing days, more departures are expected in the coming months.

NZRU chief executive Steve Tew seems resigned to losing a number of core players, however, he believes New Zealand possess enough strength-in-depth to cope with such losses.

'We're in pretty good shape. We've known for a long time that there's a group of players likely to leave us at the end of the 2015 World Cup,' Tew told the New Zealand Herald.

'Hopefully we can see them depart in a nice way. In a way it's one of the last pieces of motivation that might be helpful.'

As the All Blacks continue their preparations for their title defence in England, Tew is hoping to have any contract negotiations wrapped up early next year, and he hopes the players will decide on their own futures by the time the All Blacks play their Test against Samoa in Apia on July 7.

'We made it really clear [before the World Cup] in 2011 that one of the learnings from '07 was we had too many distractions,' he said.

'We're not going to allow that to happen again and the announcement earlier this week about Steve was part of that strategy. Ultimately these players have to make their own decisions. We can't force a timetable on them.'

Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images