The four-year contracts signed by Brodie Retallick and Julian Savea are among the most significant player deals pulled off by New Zealand Rugby, according to its top official.
The world class pair on Wednesday became the first All Blacks to commit through to the 2019 World Cup.
It comes at a time when top players signing offshore contracts is increasingly commonplace.
A core of experienced players won’t be around next year while some exciting younger All Blacks such as backs Charles Piutau and Colin Slade have also been lured by club riches.
NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says retaining lock Retallick, 23, and wing Savea, 24, injects some much-needed goodwill for supporters.
The twin boost compares favourably, he says, with a similar four-year deal signed in 2011 by Test greats Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, who were considerably further into their career at the time.
“I don’t think anyone would take anything away from two of our centurions (McCaw and Carter) but if these two fulfil their potential, they’ll join that elite club too,” Tew said.
“Julian and Brodie are two of our finest players with huge futures in front of them. If things go according to form and fitness and selection, they’ll play in two more World Cups.”
Last November Retallick became the first lock to be crowned world player of the year, seeing off a shortlist of nominees that included Savea.
Both made their Test debuts against Ireland at Auckland three years ago.
Chiefs powerhouse Retallick has earned 36 caps, winning accolades for powerful running and deft ball skills, mixed with a lung-busting work rate.
He said longevity was a key plank of his contract negotiations.
“We never talked about the length but when NZ Rugby offered four years it was just a bonus.
“I’m still enjoying playing for the best team in the world and the Chiefs is a great environment to be part of.”
Savea, 24, has scored a remarkable 30 tries in 33 Tests and is prolific at Super Rugby level for the Hurricanes.
“I said I want to play in this black jersey as long as I can, that was really important for me,” he said.
Tew says there are no extended breaks or offshore “sabbaticals” written into either contract.
A likely boost in revenue from the next broadcast deal was giving NZ Rugby room to offer top players a little more to stay, he says.
There are negotiations going on with 50 to 70 players at any given time.
“It’s not news that there’s a lot of pressure on our talent but it’s ramped up of late.”
ALL BLACKS STAYING LONG-TERM
2019 – Julian Savea, Brodie Retallick
2018 – Jerome Kaino
2017 – Israel Dagg, Cory Jane, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Cruden, Kieran Read, Steven Luatua, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Charlie Faumuina.