BEAUDEN Barrett is open to the idea of a sabbatical in Japan as he and other leading All Blacks eye lucrative offshore moves following next year’s World Cup.
Playmaker Barrett and world class locks Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick are among those reportedly considering club contracts or simply requesting a break before targeting a return to New Zealand ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.
New Zealand Rugby has previously granted sabbatical clauses in the contracts of its premier players.
Dan Carter had a lucrative French experience in 2008 while Richie McCaw simply took six months off in 2013, a move he said extended his career.
Japan is increasingly being seen by NZR as a preferred destination for its players, primarily because it isn’t as physically demanding as club rugby in Europe.
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All Blacks Patrick Tuipulotu and Dalton Papalii wield Kanata samurai swords in Tokyo.Source:Getty Images
Several players just below All Blacks level are currently on short term Japanese deals and will return for next year’s Super Rugby season.
Two time world player of the year Barrett was upbeat about the prospect of beginning his next Kiwi contract with a taste of life and rugby in Asia.
“There is a lot to like about Japan,” he told journalists in Tokyo in the leadup to Saturday’s Test against the Wallabies.
“What I can say is there is good open communication with the coaches, my management and NZR and I am happy that at the right time I will make the right decision.”
Top players may be awaiting details of how the Japan Rugby Union structures its 2020 calendar.
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Rugby Union: Despite the match being a dead rubber, All Blacks star Beauden Barrett says the Kiwis won’t be underestimating an out of form Wallabies in this weekend’s final Bledisloe test in Japan.
The World Cup is likely to push the start of the Top League back to January, meaning there could effectively be two condensed club seasons in the same year.
Top All Blacks could command big money on a two season deal, something NZR chief negotiator Chris Lendrum said agents had become aware of.
“Plan A is to always have players stay and play in our competitions all year round and be available for the All Blacks,” Lendrum told NZME.
“If we had to push for a plan B… then it is true that a two seasons in one Japanese prospect is more attractive for us to work with than seeing somebody head out the door to France or England.”
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Originally published as Top All Blacks eye Japanese career break
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