Former England rugby international James Haskell earned just NZ$20,000 a year when he played with the Highlanders in Super Rugby in 2012.
Haskell, who toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions in 2017, made the move to New Zealand eight years ago to “improve and become a better player for England”.
The sizeable flanker had already played in three separate professional leagues by the age of 27 – the English Premiership, the French Top 14 and Japan’s Top League – but wished to compete in the premier southern hemisphere club competition.
Getting the best out of your players
WAF “The podcast” Ep9 with Eddie Jones.
Understanding your players and their cognitive health is so important.
— James Haskell (@jameshaskell) December 23, 2020
Haskell, who made his international debut for England in 2007, was signed by the Highlanders, but recieved a paltry sum to play for the Dunedin-based Super Rugby side.
“I went to the Highlanders for NZ$20,000 a year. It cost me more to play for them but I went there for the love of the game.
“I have been all around the world and enjoyed every day of it. You get one chance at life and I wanted to maximise it,” Haskell told The Times.
That meagre sum would have put Haskell below the Unicef determined poverty line for New Zealand in 2016, which was set at NZ$28,000 per household a year.
World Cup regrets
The Englishman has no regrets about his time with the Highlanders however, but does wish that he had more success in the two Rugby World Cups he took part in.
“Both World Cups I was a part of turned out to be shambolic and disappointing. I would have liked to have had Eddie Jones coaching me through a World Cup.
“He would have made it something very different. My best games for England were under Eddie. He got the best out of me,” Haskell commented.
Haskell retired at the end of the 2018-2019 season after a short stint with Northampton Saints in the Gallagher Premiership.
The former England international often entertained both on and off the pitch during his career and criticised the overly-media trained players of the current generation.
“Skills are fundamental. As are personalities. That is one criticism I would have of the game now: everything is so sanitised.
“You can’t say this, do that, offend that person, you must reshoot that photo because it had the wrong mobile phone in, or not ask that question. It is just all boring,” Haskell said.