Ex-All Blacks coach Steve Hansen urged New Zealand Rugby to stand up for itself when it comes to deciding the format for Vodacom Super Rugby from next year onwards.
Tensions have escalated between New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia this week following the revelations of findings from the Aratipu review into the future of Super Rugby.
The review has been undertaken to find ways to improve and re-shape the competition in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of the recommendations include the exclusion of South Africa and the disbandment of Sanzaar altogether in favour of a trans-Tansman tournament with an increase in Kiwi teams and a reduction of Australian sides.
But as the debate about the future of Super Rugby rages on, Hansen joined the conversation, saying that NZR must do what is best for rugby in their country and not just agree to a trans-Tasman competition because RA want them to.
‘Without being controversial, we have been looking after the Aussies for years,’ Hansen said in an interview with Stuff.
‘And every time we have required something from them, particularly at a high level, sometimes they have gone missing.
‘Do we owe them something? No. But because we are the nation we are, and we care about the game more than just ourselves, we bend and buckle a bit.
‘I think NZ Rugby are in the mood for having strong discussions, because they only get one shot at it.’
Hansen also warned NZR against the expansion on the number of Kiwi teams in the proposed trans-Trasman competition, which he believes could weaken the country’s player-depth.
‘You don’t want to be diluting the talent pool. And then you have to ask ‘do we want our athletes travelling all around the world as much as they have been?
‘If the answer is “no”, you look internally into New Zealand or maybe Australia for a competition structure because it’s not far away.’