NZRU boss denies Japan cash grab

Fri, 31 May 2013 15:03
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NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew denied money was the motivation behind a planned Test against Japan later this year.

New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew on Friday denied money was the motivation behind a planned Test against Japan later this year, saying the match was about giving young All Blacks a run.

Tew stressed that the proposed Test, reportedly set to take place in Tokyo on November 2, was still under negotiation but said if it proceeded it would not be a money spinner for the reigning world champions.

"We probably won't make money," he told RadioSport.

"We're in a profit share situation with the Japanese and we're going to play in a small stadium in Tokyo which only holds about 20,000 people because the big one is not available."

Tew said the All Blacks had retained the core of the team that won the 2011 World Cup and the coaching staff wanted to blood young up-and-comers ahead of the 2015 tournament in England.

But he said they were reluctant to put inexperienced players up against a tier-one nation and proposed the Test against Japan's Brave Blossoms as a compromise.

"They wanted a Test match where some younger, less experienced players could lead the week and play the game without the risk of losing a match to a tier-one nation like Wales or Ireland, because we wouldn't be forgiven for that," he said.

Tew said playing in Japan would also boost the All Blacks' brand in the country before it hosts the 2019 World Cup.

"We've got some aspirations in Asia," he said.

"We're playing a World Cup up there in 2019 and... it would be very nice if New Zealand had enough presence in Japan between now and then that our guys can go up there and be at least the [fans] second favourite after the home team."

The proposed match, in the run-up to New Zealand's European tour in November featuring matches against France, England and Ireland, would be the All Blacks first Test against the Brave Blossoms on Japanese soil.

The teams have previously met twice, at the 1995 and 2011 World Cups, with Japan losing both encounters, including a 145-17 drubbing in the 1995 tournament.

A New Zealand XV trounced Japan at home twice in 1987, but neither game was given Test match status.

The All Blacks last visited Japan in 2009 for a Bledisloe Cup match against Australia, which they won 32-19.