New Zealand Rugby
Hayman snubs NZRU for Toulon
March 22, 2010
Carl Hayman has put his family ahead of his country © Getty Images
Former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman has opted to sign a lucrative deal with French club Toulon, parting ways with Newcastle and spurning NZRU overtures ahead of next year's World Cup.
The New Zealand body said it tried everything within its limited financial means to bring Hayman back from the Falcons in England for next year's showpiece international tournament on home soil, but Hayman said the financial benefits of staying abroad steered his future in Toulon's direction.
"This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life," he said. "I would like to thank the club for being so professional in the way they have allowed me the time to make my decision, my team-mates for the manner in which they have welcomed me and the Falcons fans for the affection they have always shown during my time at the club."
The NZRU don't allow Europe-based players to represent their country, so despite Toulon's willingness to release Hayman for the World Cup, he has effectively ended his hopes of playing for the All Blacks in their home World Cup.
The 45-test veteran's form for Newcastle had meant that Taranaki Rugby Union and the Hurricanes franchise were vocal in their desire to lure the 30-year-old prop back home. NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said they had put their best possible offer on the table.
Tew said the NZRU respected Hayman's decision to go to Toulon and acknowledged that every player was faced with a similar dilemma when they come off their contracts. Tew mentioned Tamati Ellison from the Hurricanes as another player who had chosen financial reward over an opportunity of playing for the All Blacks.
"Our players are not different from a lot of other professionals and if you want to live overseas you can earn more money and it can set you up for your return," Tew told the New Zealand Herald. "If it comes down to money then clearly we don't compete, we never have and probably never will.
"Player retention and getting guys back from Europe is important to us, but not at any cost. We have got to be as competitive as we can but can not do things that would be foolish [financially]."
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal said in a statement that he would make Hayman available for the All Blacks at the World Cup but Tew said there was no chance of the NZRU reviewing its stance of not picking All Blacks who are playing offshore.
"What would the Super 14 look like for New Zealand and our teams if we had our top 10 international players all playing in Europe?" Tew told Radio Sport. "We just don't think it works."
Newcastle paid tribute to Hayman and wished him luck in France. The club are now on the lookout for a replacement tight-head.
"Carl has given outstanding service to Newcastle Falcons during his time here," chairman Dave Thompson said. "We held numerous serious discussions about extending his stay with us and made him our best possible offer, but ultimately we respect his decision and wish him every success for the future.
"Carl remains 100% committed to the Falcons for the remainder of the season, and as club captain continues to have a vital role in firstly maintaining our Guinness Premiership status, and secondly helping us to achieve our ambitions of Heineken Cup rugby for next season."