New Zealand rugby is currently under siege from France’s Top 14, with big-money offers coaxing a number of high profile names north to Europe.
Only last week it was confirmed that Chiefs and All Black out-half Aaron Cruden was turning his back on the famous black jersey at the end season, in a move to Top 14 side Montpellier. The two-year deal will reportedly net the 28-year-old a cool €800,000 per year.
Now, according to L’Equipe, Cruden’s Chiefs teammate Tawera Kerr-Barlow is the latest All Black to become the focus of interest from the cash-rich Toulon.
Kerr-Barlow has won 25 caps for the All Blacks to date but with competition fierce for the scrum-half starting spot and with Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara currently locking down the two places in the New Zealand squad, the temptation of a move to France and a lucrative deal could well see the 26-year-old choose to follow Cruden north.
A move to Toulon would see Kerr-Barlow link up with former All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu, where the 34-year-old has played since 2015. With the veteran seemingly enjoying his rugby in the Top 14, this could well be just the kind of endorsement the Chiefs half-back needs to follow his compatriots’ decision to forego the glory of wearing the famous black jersey.
Right now French clubs are on safari in the southern hemisphere, looking to bag the biggest prizes of the Super Rugby ranks. With money to burn and the offer of top tier rugby in Europe, it could well be that Cruden could see some familiar faces joining him in France before too long.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
In this week’s edition of The Oval Office Podcast, we speak to the Pro12 Communications Director Adam Redmond, who outlines how the league will evolve in the coming seasons.