The New Zealand Rugby Union is setting aside NZ$2-million (R18-million) in a bid to win gold at the 2016 Olympic Games.
The money will be used so that high-profile All Blacks like Sonny Bill Williams, Liam Messam and Cory Jane will be able to commit to New Zealand's sevens programme without losing out financially. It is believed that although a definite amount has not been finalised yet, close to NZ$2-million is being viewed as a realistic budget.
According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, if players want to withdraw from Super Rugby participation in 2016 – to play Sevens – then the NZRU will have to pay their salaries and their respective franchises, who must then bring in replacements.
There have been negotiations between the NZRU and the franchises for several months about releasing players for the Olympics.
The NZRU released their four-year vision in 2012 – in which defending their World Cup title, in the 15-man game, and winning two gold medals at the Olympics were their main goals.
Contracted Super Rugby players are unable to play sevens but this won't be the case in 2016 as the NZRU wants every player, who want to play the abbreviated game, to be available for Olympic selection.
New Zealand could use a horses-for-courses policy where players will be advised to skip the Super Rugby tournament in 2016 depending on their age, profile, skills and sevens experience. Others will be able to concentrate on sevens closer to the Olympics.
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