By JOHN MATHESON - Sunday News
Sunday, 16 September 2007
All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw continues to baulk at re-signing for the NZRU.
Sunday News revealed today that McCaw - whose contract runs out at the conclusion of the World Cup - ignored pleas from rugby bosses to sign his new deal before jetting off to France.
McCaw has said numerous times that he wants to remain in New Zealand.
But the billionaire owners of French clubs are desperate lure the All Blacks captain to Europe.
A NZRU source told Sunday News the union want McCaw to sign on until the end of the 2011 tournament.
But McCaw - who needs to sign his contract before October 12 - only wants to commit to a one or two year deal.
The source confirmed McCaw would earn at least 10 per cent more a season by signing the longer term deal.
But the world's best openside flanker - who earns a cool $1 million a year by combining his All Blacks salary with his numerous endorsement deals - wants to see out his career in Europe after the 2008 or 2009 seasons.
With Europe's top clubs boasting full rosters for the 2007-08 club season it makes sense for McCaw to put off his desire to play in Europe by at least 12 months.
He would then be openly available and a bidding war would ensue.
But it's possible he could spurn the NZRU shorter term deals and re-emerge in England, France or Italy as early as November alongide team mates Chris Jack (Saracens), Byron Kelleher (Toulouse), Aaron Mauger (Leicester), Carl Hayman (Newcastle), Anton Oliver (Toulon), Doug Howlett (Munster) and Luke McAlister (Sale).
Last night NZRU deputy CEO confirmed McCaw has not put pen to paper - despite only having 26 more days before deadline day.
"We have been in discussion with Richie and his people for some time," said Tew.
"Those discussions have been very positive.
"All parties are aware of the deadline and, as is our practice, its not appropriate to make any further comment until we have reached a conclusion."
Sunday News has been told the top brass at the NZRU have been frustrated by McCaw's reluctance to re-sign.
Tew told unday News in March that the NZRU wanted all of the All Blacks to have signed their contract extensions prior to leaving for the World Cup.
Said Tew: "We're of course conscious it wouldn't be ideal to have All Blacks away in France still undecided."
McCaw's lawyer Warren Alcock wouldn't return calls last night while his European based representative, Bart Campbell offered a stern "no comment" to our enquiries about his charge's future.