Hansen fears as Pau seal Slade coup
Published 14/04/2015 | 02:30
Back-up out-half Colin Slade is the latest All Black to head for Europe on a lucrative deal, prompting New Zealand coach Steve Hansen to express further concerns about the future for the world champions.
The former Wales supremo is already planning for 2016 being "one of the most difficult years for All Black rugby" after Slade followed Ulster-bound full-back Charles Piutau, Munster-bound centre Francis Saili and others into the northern hemisphere by signing for Pau on a three-year contract.
The Crusaders star will link up with his New Zealand team-mate Conrad Smith at the French club who secured their promotion from the second tier Pro D2 last weekend. The 27-year-old will receive a reported €500,000 a season.
He'll also link up with former Munster pair James Coughlan and Sean Dougall under the Reds' ex-backs coach Simon Mannix, while Paddy Butler is also being linked with a move to the south of France.
All of this is causing a stir in New Zealand.
"2016 is going to be one of the most difficult years for All Black rugby because not only are we losing people as it's time for them to go overseas or retire, and we've lost one or two other people we didn't want to lose, but we're also going to lose some guys to the Olympics," Hansen told Stuff.co.nz.
"We could lose up to 15 players out of our current 31-man squad, which is massive. It's something we're planning for. The immediate challenge is the World Cup which gets most of our focus, but it's about winning today and also making sure you're looking to the future so you can win tomorrow."
The man who broke Irish hearts in 2013, Ryan Crotty, could also join the exodus after remaining coy on his post-World Cup future. The Kiwi centre has Irish heritage and has expressed an interest in playing here in the past.
Meanwhile, Australia are bracing themselves for a Toulon bid for their star out-half Quade Cooper who is set to visit the French club during his current injury lay-off with a shoulder problem, according to 'Midi Olympique'.
Northampton look set to land South African centre Pat Howard, who spent part of this year with Munster, for next season.