New big-money deals for Kiwis

The New Zealand Rugby Union have announced a big pay rise for its players after agreeing to a collective employment deal with the Players' Association.

The key changes to New Zealand's payment pool, which will run until at least 2018, will see players on maximum Super Rugby contracts earn $195,000, while the ones on minimum deals will get $75,000. This comes after the five franchises received budget increases of $650,000 per annum.

Additionally, a bonus incentive of $35,000 has been added for long-serving Super Rugby players if they commit to play in the National Provincial Championship (ITM Cup).

Furthermore, $24.8m has been set aside for top-up payments in the fight to retain 40 All Blacks players. The likes of Kieran Read, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Dane Coles, Aaron Smith and Owen Franks, who have committed their long-term futures to the NZRU, will all benefit substantially from the windfall.

The NZRU also opened a new savings scheme to help players once they are retired. Players can contribute throughout their careers and then take a withdrawal at the ages of 34 or 40.

It was also confirmed players will partake in a compulsory awareness programme designed for player health and wellbeing. The modules include respect and inclusiveness, illicit drug education, player conduct, mental health, anti-doping, wagering and corruption, and concussion management.

Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

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Mariette Adams