Kiwi exodus continues



Jackson Willison is the latest player to ink a lucrative contract with an overseas club, signing a two-year deal with Top 14 French outfit Grenoble.

The New Zealand Maori, Blues midfielder and Waikato captain’s decision to head offshore comes hard on the heels of former All Black Zac Guildford’s pending departure and former Counties Manukau captain Fritz Lee re-signing with Clermont.

Like Guildford, Willison jets off straight after this year’s Super Rugby campaign with the Blues, leaving Waikato searching for a new leader this season.

The 25-year-old’s move highlights the New Zealand Rugby Union’s challenge of retaining its second-tier players.

Those that sit bellow the All Blacks can’t command the same salaries.

“Personally probably not,” Willison told the Sunday Star-Times when asked if anything more could have been done to keep him in New Zealand.

“It will be a continued trend in the next couple of months, if not the next two years. We may see a few more players heading overseas with the World Cup looming. People will leave the country for their own reasons. Some of them are identical.

“I’m not the first player and won’t be the last. It was exciting for both my partner and myself when we sat down and looked at the deal. We’re both looking forward to doing a bit of travel. It was quite an easy decision in the end. My time in New Zealand is nearly up.”

Source: Fairfax NZ News

Facebook Comments
Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. @Jacques(Bunny):

    Only the quantity is different…

    Zac Guilford is 24 and better than any 15 in South Africa…

    Jackson Willison is 25 and would walk into any South African Super 15 midfield if not the Boks…

  2. Bryce –
    I know that you made the comment:
    “Zac Guilford is 24 and better than any 15 in South Africa..”
    assuming Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux is still classified as a 14 but he is officially now a 15.

    Honest mistake, I just wanted to put it out there for the more casual readers that look and get dumbfounded saying to themselves “whatabout LeRoux!!!!”.

    No worries folks, move along…just a typo.

  3. Naahhh Bryce… the central contracting system will now start biting the Kiwis as their bargaining and salary strength is way below ours and their incessant reliance on that black jersey will have the same effect eventually as the sailing patriotism thing… it will not work… they’re going to bleed players worse than us and as badly as Australia. The only difference is us and New Zealand can kind of aford it… Australia cannot.

    In terms of player types this is exactly how the Euros started with us and Aus. First the second tier players and hasbeen internationals… then will be the youth talented bubbling unders and then will come the direct attack to take top tier and international quality players. I believe in the long term we’re probably better capable of suffering and even preventing financially sustained player number losses as compared to NZ and Aus. NZ does not have the money to save themselves and Aus not the player numbers.

  4. @DavidS: Yes David, Happy New Year to you too. You once again surprise me with your negative statements about the financial position of NZ Rugby. Where do you get your facts from and if you are correct and “NZ does not have the money to save themselves”, why isn’t that reported by the sensation-hungry reporters like Mr Reason over here? Instead we hear that for FY 2012 New Zealand rugby made a NZ$3.2 m profit , ended the financial year with cash reserves of $51.9m and that all 26 unions in NZ made a small profit in 2013. Contrast that with reports that SA Rugby reported a profit of R6.2m (less than $800 000), had cash reserves of $1.09m and in the story above this one, Border RU is bankrupt. Man, Steve Hansen will be singing Don’t cry for me Argentina of Suid Afrika for that matter.

    As the story states, NZ rugby is challenged in how to hang on to its SECOND tier players. Willison was never going to make the AB’s and Guildford might have made it back into the Crusaders thanks to the forgiveness of coach Blackadder but he was never going to pull on the black jersey again after his second misdemeanor and he has done the right thing. NZ rugby looks after its first tier players very well – they had their salaries increased to $650 000 (> R5m) pa last August and as was widely reported at the time, players like Carter and McCaw would be earning around S1m pa with their individual endorsement payments.