Aaron Smith, Ash Dixon, Brad Weber and Bryn Hall have shared their dismay at the proposed expulsion of the four South African franchises from Vodacom Super Rugby.
With Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby set to abandon Sanzaar to either form a Trans-Tasman partnership or go at it alone, SA Rugby has been left out of any future plans and is now looking to European competitions.
But New Zealand players have expressed disappointment at the possibility of competing in a tournament without South Africa and warned NZR against becoming too isolated.
Speaking on Gold AM’s Country Sport Breakfast show on Tuesday, Highlanders co-captain Dixon said: ‘I’d love to see the Africans still there. I think it’s a huge part of the rivalry between New Zealand and South Africa.
‘Especially as a young fella who has toured there … it’s a great way to get a lot of gratitude … the way they live their lives and the way we do is completely different.
‘Obviously it is not an easy place to win – I’d love to see the Africans still there. If the Africans don’t play, hopefully we can chuck someone in who is a similar beast.’
Dixon’s teammate and fellow co-captain, Aaron Smith echoed his sentiments and said touring South Africa is a special occasion for him personally.
‘I’m a kid from a small town and going to South Africa and seeing lions and elephants, and seeing a beautiful country like that … obviously New Zealand is beautiful but South Africa, it’s just different over there,’ he said.
Chiefs scrumhalf Weber added: ‘I think it’s the beauty of Super Rugby is that we do have all these different teams from around the world. I actually really enjoy that part of it.’
And the Crusaders’ scrumhalf Hall said an all-New Zealand competition like Super Rugby Aotearoa is unsustainable: ‘New Zealand-only competition would dilute the product.’
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