http://stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3693088a1823,00.htmlJack signs with Tasman
07 June 2006Â
By DANIEL GILHOOLY
The value of new signing Chris Jack stretches well beyond the handful of games he will play for Tasman according to the new rugby union's boss.
World class All Blacks lock Jack was today unveiled as the first major transfer ahead of this year's inaugural Air New Zealand Cup.
Canterbury granted him an early release to sign a two-year deal with Tasman, a new union formed by the merging of Nelson Bays and Marlborough.
His contract begins in this year's 14-team Air New Zealand Cup starting in July but Jack is likely to play little part as his probable All Blacks commitments don't end until early September.
There will still be seven weeks remaining in the new provincial competition at that point but Tasman Rugby Union chief executive Lee Germon admitted they would see little of the 48-test veteran as he was sure to be designated a rest period by the All Blacks management.
"The reality is that any union looking to sign an All Black needs to think pretty carefully about it baring in mind the limited game time that we know they'll have," Germon said.
"But when you have a player and a person of the calibre of Chris offered to us as an opportunity, we'd be fools not to grab it.
"We see Chris contributing on the park but that's only a tiny fraction of the reason we've wanted to get him. We see him contributing immensely to our younger players and the union as a whole in terms of creating leadership and the culture."
All Blacks winger Rico Gear played four games for Nelson Bays in last year's NPC second division and Tasman can realistically expect to get a similar output from Gear and Jack this year.
Jack, clad in a Tasman Makos shirt at the formal announcement in Hamilton today, said he instigated the move in search of new challenges.
He admitted it was important for him to remain in the Crusaders Super 14 catchment area so he could continue playing for the champion franchise.
"It's been a tough decision for me, I'm leaving my friends and family behind," he said.
"But also I saw a chance for me to grow and enjoy a bit of rugby somewhere else. It's going to be exciting for me. I've played for Canterbury since I was 20 and to play somewhere else is exciting."
The deal took just four weeks of negotiation to complete.
Jack sought advice from All Blacks forwards coach Steve Hansen and former All Blacks and Canterbury prop Greg Feek, who has signed to play for Tasman, before making his decision.
His wife's parents live in Nelson which was another factor but Jack was unsure if he would shift north from Christchurch.
He denied the shift was connected to the salary cap which has been introduced for the new competition and designed to spread talent around the country.
Germon didn't expect Jack's shift - which was a free transfer under the new regulations - to spark wholesale movement in the New Zealand domestic game.
"The player still has to be prepared to move so it comes down to that decision resting still with the player," Germon said.
"It's over to unions such as Tasman and the new unions coming into the competition to make sure we cater for the opportunity for bigger name players to join us.
"We're trying to get up to speed quite quickly here as a new union. Having someone like Jacko, with the Greg Feeks of this world is going to help us get there a bit quicker."
Tasman will be coached by Dennis Brown and managed by former All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder.
Last month they signed two English club players, Exeter lock Chris Bentley and Bedford prop John Brooks to go with the acquisition of England sevens star Ben Gollings.
However, Germon said three-quarters of their current 50-man squad were home-grown.
A squad of 26 will be announced in mid-July to play in the Air New Zealand Cup.
surprised no1 said anything about this already big news i th ink and a bit of a coup for tasman
might help them compete in the air new zealand cup
just a little more