Contract conundrum for Ranger
Rene Ranger might have to honour his contract with Montpellier and give up on his Test ambitions.
New Zealand centre Rene Ranger may be forced to honour a contract with French club Montpellier at the expense of his All Black career.
Ranger made his fourth Test appearance for New Zealand - his first in three years - as a replacement in last weekend's first Test against France at Eden Park.
Prior to his recall, Ranger - assuming his Test career was over - signed a three-year contract with French club Montpellier thought to be worth more than $1 million.
Now, Ranger's management is trying to negotiate his release from that contract to allow him to pursue his revived international career. But All Black coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday that decision may no longer be the players' to make.
Montpellier is reported to have asked Ranger to pay half the value of his contract, as much as $500,000, to have his signing voided.
"From what I've just heard, the decision may not be his.
"We were well aware of his contractual situation," Hansen said.
Hansen, on Thursday, defended his decision to name Ranger in his squad for the three-Test series against France while knowing that he may not be available to the All Blacks in future.
Ranger was one of New Zealand's best players in its 23-13 first Test win over France, making several powerful runs after coming off the bench.
"But we've said right from day one that if someone is playing well enough and is here for more than just the one campaign, we would consider them if they were playing better than everyone else.
"He's one of those guys, hence why we picked him," mentioned Hansen.
Hansen said Ranger provided the impact last weekend that the All Blacks coaches wanted from their bench players. On one of his storming late runs he knocked out France fullback Yohann Huget, who had made an ineffective attempt to stop him.
"He's a dynamo when he comes off the bench and that's what you want from your bench players.
"You want world-class substitutes.
"He touched the ball twice last week, yet everyone is talking about how great he was, so that tells you what an impact he had.
"He didn't show a lot of finesse when he knocked the bloke out. He just ran hard but again we were captured by that because he came out with intent and purpose and lots of energy.
"If you wrote a job description for a substitute, all those words would be in it," the All Blacks coach added.