Steve Hansen says New Zealand Rugby owes Australian counterparts nothing and urged officials to be strong in talks over the future of Super Rugby.
NZ Rugby commissioned the Aratipu review to look into the Super Rugby model and put plans in place to rebuild finances after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
There has been talk of reducing the number of Australian teams in a new-look trans-Tasman competition.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan this week compared the relationship between his governing body and NZ Rugby to a “master-servant” dynamic.
Former All Blacks head coach Hansen has urged NZ Rugby to stand firm when negotiations take place.
“Without being controversial, we have been looking after the Aussies for years,” Hansen told Stuff Media.
“And every time we have required something from them, particularly at a high level, sometimes they have gone missing.
“Do we owe them something? No. But because we are the nation we are, and we care about the game more than just ourselves, we bend and buckle a bit.’”
He added: “I think NZ Rugby are in the mood for having strong discussions … because they only get one shot at it.”
Hansen does not believe it would be a wise move to have more New Zealand teams in a Super Rugby competition and feels less travel can be a benefit for players.
“You don’t want to be diluting the talent pool. And then you have to ask, ‘Do we want our athletes travelling all around the world as much as they have been?’.
“If the answer is ‘no’, you look internally into New Zealand or maybe Australia [for a structure of the tournament) because it’s not far away.”
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