Kiwis are the true 'professionals'
Kiwis are the true 'professionals'SHARE
New Zealand have been the undisputed world champions and top-ranked team for the last eight years and it doesn't look like they will be knocked off their perch soon.
The last team to have displaced them from the No.1 world ranking was South Africa – back in 2009.
This – according to the former All Black skipper, Fitzpatrick – is because New Zealand has the "whole package", starting with the administration of the game.
"New Zealand rugby has adapted really well to professionalism in the last 25-odd years," Fitzpatrick told rugby365.
"Steve Tew [CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union] and his team have done a superb job of making rugby what it is today in New Zealand, both in terms of sponsors and making sure that grassroots are sustainable – the identification of players coming through and ultimately going on to play for the All Blacks."
He pointed out that it flowed through to the All Blacks and Super Rugby teams, where the 'winning culture' is embedded.
"What I loved about Super Rugby this year, in terms of the Final, was the excitement I saw in the faces of the All Blacks," the All Black legend said.
"The Kieran Reads, [Ryan] Crotty, [Luke] Romano and Samuel Whitelock – those players have had a huge year playing, against the [British and Irish] Lions, and then for them to show what Super Rugby meant to them, showed me New Zealand is doing a good job.
"Long may that continue.
"They are quite happy to live in New Zealand – maybe not earn as much money as they could offshore, but they are playing for arguably the greatest sporting team ever.
"The legacy of the jersey is paying dividends and long may that continue."
By Jan de Koning