The All Blacks have talented players scattered throughout the globe.
The ever increasing amount of money being pumped into rugby by broadcasters hungry for ratings, has enabled northern hemisphere clubs raid their counterparts south of the equator for some of rugby’s best players.
Although the player drain, as it has become known, has been in motion since the dawn in professionalism, in recent years European clubs have been able to attract players at peak of their careers.
This developments has worried the SANZAAR nations. No longer do the southern hemisphere’s elite players see the move north as a pension pot at the end of their careers, but a lucrative move in the midst of a World Cup cycle.
After making 122 All Black appearances, Dan Carter moved to France for the second time in his career, after enjoying a brief sojourn with Perpignan during the 2008/09 season.
When he first joined the Catalan club, fans were shocked by the fact that Perpignan were to pay the legendary fly half the equivalent of £30,000 per game.
However that massive figure was quickly forgotten about, after Carter became the highest paid player in the world when he signed for Racing 92 on a three year deal, reported to be worth €1.5 million per year.
Like Carter, Ma’a Nonu left New Zealand behind when he joined Toulon after the All Blacks retained the World Cup.
However, following a career in which the big centre played for three of New Zealand’s five Super Rugby franchises, Nonu’s has not lived up to expectation during his debut season with Toulon.
Nevertheless, Nonu’s mystic remains, and will no doubt be a key part of Mourad Boudjellal’s campaign to regain both the Top 14 and Champions Cup titles next season.
Part of the new breed of All Blacks who have left New Zealand early in their careers, 24 year old Charles Piutau potentially gave up on the opportunity to be part the 2015 World Cup squad when his move to Ulster was confirmed last summer.
Indeed, the manner in which Piutau was left in limbo after his Auckland Blues contract was allowed expire, enabling him join Wasps last season, left some questioning the motivation of the All Black management.
Piutau himself argued in the Daily Mail, that his decision to sign for Ulster contributed to him being left out of New Zealand’s World Cup squad.
The coaches told me it wasn’t the reason, but I felt it was partly. It was tough. No player likes to be a spectator in the biggest tournament.
Although Colin Slade was faced with a great deal of competition to succeed Dan Carter was the All Blacks first choice number ten, it came a shock when it was announced that he would join Pau.
After all, Pau had only won promotion to the Top 14, and were destined to be struggle at the wrong end of the table.
As expected, Slade became an important figure for the club based in the foothills of the Pyrenees, scoring 118 points in his debut season.
Like Slade, it came as a surprise when lowly Pau announced the capture of Conrad Smith.
Although Smith may have not possessed the pace or power of his All Black teammates, the 94 times capped player was one of the most intelligent players ever to have played the game.
Throughout his international career, Smith created space for the dangerous players around him by straightening the attacking line, or stepping around even the most organised defences.
Traits he demonstrated while playing against Nonu in the Top 14 last January.
— Actus Top 14 (@ActusTop14) January 3, 2016
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena