New Zealand
All Blacks jumper losing lure against euros - Blackadder
Sam Bruce
April 10, 2015
Colin Slade is in career-best form, and is the form No.10 in New Zealand right now © Getty Images
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Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has added his frustrations to the growing chorus of concern around the departure of New Zealand's generation next as he fights to keep in-form playmaker Colin Slade.

Blackadder has watched on over the past weeks as some of the country's best young talent confirmed moves overseas, including Blues duo Charles Piutau and Francis Saili, and rising Chiefs winger Bryce Heem.

But the exodus issue really hit home for the former Crusaders and All Blacks captain this week when Slade was revealed as the prime target of a number of French clubs, while newspaper Midi Olympique reported that second-division club Pau had tabled a $NZ 720,000 offer to secure the services of the Crusaders No.10.

Blackadder remains hopeful that the lure of further All Blacks duty will be enough to keep Slade in New Zealand beyond this season, but he said the "ridiculous" money on offer overseas was making it hard to compete.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder, Stormers v Crusaders, Super Rugby, Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa, May 7, 2011
Todd Blackadder: overseas money is "ridiculous" © Getty Images
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"I just think with Sladey, he's got a lot to offer New Zealand rugby," Blackadder said. "I don't think anyone here wants to see him go; I'm sure the All Blacks don't either, but it's got to be his own decision. We all have different motivations and different points of our career, I suppose, and everyone has their price, I suppose.

"But some of the money being bandied around; if that's the case then it's just ridiculous, isn't it? It just makes it so that you can't compete here in New Zealand. It just really comes down to whether the guys still want to play in the All Blacks or not."

Slade's irresistible form for the Crusaders has seen him rocket into contention for not just a spot in the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup squad, but also the hotly contested No.10 jersey. Slade has pushed Carter out to second five-eighth at the Crusaders while the Chiefs' Aaron Cruden and Hurricanes' Beauden Barrett are enjoying solid, but not brilliant, seasons.

Slade, at 27 years of age, is seemingly in the prime - and form - of his career, and he could potentially add many more Test caps to the 17 he already boasts. But there's little doubt the contract landscape has changed, as the departure of Piutau and Saili has shown - a fact not lost on Blackadder.

 
"I think we've got to have a good rethink and think about how we can help retain these [younger] guys." Todd Blackadder
 

"It just seems to be the new norm, isn't it? You get a lot of guys, you develop them through, they take their opportunity, they're just on the cusp of being in the All Blacks, and they've been in there and are about to nail it and then obviously … [they're going]," Blackadder said when asked about the increased number of young New Zealanders heading overseas.

"And you can see that these foreign clubs, too, they're targeting these guys and if they can get them for big money now they can get another five years out of them. Whereas the old traditional thinking was that they go at the end of their career after giving everything back to New Zealand rugby - that's no longer the case. So everyone has their price, I suppose."

With veteran All Blacks like Carter, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith heading overseas, and others such as captain Richie McCaw likely to move into retirement, after the Rugby World Cup, New Zealand rugby will enter into a transition phase after the showpiece tournament. Coach Steve Hansen has given younger players a taste of the All Blacks environment to ensure that transition is as smooth as possible, but it no longer looks like being enough as the massive money on offer overseas proves even harder to resist.

Blackadder said New Zealand Rugby had to rethink how best to retain its younger talent as the globalisation of rugby hits new heights.

"I think we've got to have a good rethink and think about how we can help retain these [younger] guys. A lot of the All Blacks, they get looked after and they get paid well, and we put a lot of time and energy into development. And we want to ensure that these guys kick on and stay because these more experienced All Blacks, they do leave at the end of their careers and they get paid the most money. I suppose we've got to have a wee rethink about how we can retain them."

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