NZ Herald's 10 Best and Worst New Zealand Buys

Discussion in 'General Rugby Union' started by MunsterMan, Jun 4, 2009.

  1. MunsterMan

    MunsterMan Guest

    10 worst buys of the professional age.

    1: Rico Gear(North Harbour to Nelson Bays/Tasman)

    A tragic waste of money, as the team paying really couldn't afford it. Gear was struggling for game time at the Blues in 2004 and the Crusaders needed a quality wing. But Canterbury had already signed Mose Tuiali'i, who had won a test cap, preventing the province from buying any other All Blacks that season.

    So Gear had to sign with Nelson Bays to be eligible for the Crusaders. Details are murky but it is believed that the dividend paid by the Crusaders to Nelson Bays was used to pay for Gear.

    His deal was believed to have had a $100,000 signing on fee and was then worth $100,000 a season. Due to his All Black commitments, Gear played four games in 2005 and three for Tasman (as they had become) in 2006.

    For payment of an estimated $300,000, Gear played just seven games at a cost of about $42,000 per 80 minutes. Now that was just plain crazy given that by 2008, Tasman had to be bailed out financially by the New Zealand Rugby Union.

    There was some nonsense spouted about the presence of a non-playing All Black being a great boost for the province. But the feel-good factor didn't stretch to bums on seats and dollars in the bank. Tasman are still paying the price today.

    2: Philemon Toleafoa(Montpellier to Waikato)

    It was maybe inevitable, given the speed at which rugby had to convert to professionalism that there would be some serious mistakes made in assessing players and their worth.

    The infrastructure wasn't in place the same way it is in football. The intelligence network had big gaps in the early days. Information about players was more word of mouth.

    If someone rated someone, that was usually enough to fish out the chequebook - as happened in the case of Philemon Toleafoa. Anyone remember him?

    He was the giant prop from Auckland who was signed by Waikato from Montpellier in 2005 on the recommendation of Sean Fitzpatrick.

    The former All Black hooker had coached Toleafoa when he had charge of a French Barbarians side. He tipped off Graham Henry, who told the NZRU and Waikato pounced.

    The 23-year-old couldn't even nail a starting spot with the provincial side and missed Super 12 selection by some distance. No one wanted him in the draft and he was back in France a year before his NZRU contract expired. Money not well spent.

    3: Christian Cullen(Wellington to Munster)

    Munster ended up regretting their decision to sign Christian Cullen in 2003. Everyone knew that, in his prime, Cullen was the greatest fullback ever seen. By the time Munster got their man, he was ravaged with injury. He arrived with a bung shoulder and was barely off the physio's couch.

    The Irish giants were seduced by the name, though, and forked out an estimated €750,000 on a three-year deal. That was good but not outrageous money by the standards of the day but, when the three years were up, Cullen had barely been sighted.

    No one wanted to admit defeat so the Irish tried to save face by shifting him in 2006 to a pay-for-play contract. In four seasons, Cullen played 44 games and scored 14 tries. This from the man who played 51 consecutive tests between 1996 and 2000, scoring what was a then record 46 tries.

    4: Jerry Collins(Wellington to Toulon)

    Toulon might be thinking along the same lines to Munster in regard to their decision to sign Jerry Collins last year. Everyone knows Collins gave his soul to the game while he was here.

    Everyone suspected he paid for it, too - by the time he left in 2008, it was apparent that the physical toll of all those massive hits couldn't be hidden. Collins was hanging in there physically yet Toulon paid him as if they were certain the blindside had been bluffing - that he had another big three years up his sleeve.

    To no one's great surprise, Collins is leaving Toulon, where his contribution has been, at best, modest. To everyone's great surprise he is moving on to the Ospreys, a Welsh club with ambition and one big pile of money and a smaller one of sense.

    5: Josh Kronfeld(Otago to Leicester)

    This was a really weird move. Not for Kronfeld. He knew his All Black days were numbered. He knew his body was close to breaking point. The Tigers offered him £250,000 a season to come to Welford Road.

    But get this - they already had Neil Back, a legend at the club, an England regular, a British Lion and a player they had no intention of letting go. They also had Lewis Moody who, at the time, was a star in the making on the blindside.

    So why buy Kronfeld? Leicester never really had an answer for that. He stayed until 2003, playing 39 games but he never moved from the periphery.

    6: Zinzan Brooke(Auckland to Harlequins)

    What a talent. Brooke remains the most gifted No 8 to ever play the game. Sadly for Harlequins, when they acquired his services in 1998 he was some way from the peak of his powers. Even sadder for Harlequins was their conviction that Brooke could successfully operate as a player-coach. They paid him £200,000 in his dual capacity, despite the fact he had no coaching experience.

    When his ageing body inevitably failed him, Brooke was on board as just a coach and he was out of his depth. The Quins finished 10th in the Premiership and were saved from relegation only by the presence of the hapless Rotherham.

    Brooke, to his credit took a £120,000 pay cut when he relinquished his playing duties but he decided to quit the club in January 2001 when it was apparent he was not making a positive contribution.

    7: Ben Castle(Bay of Plenty to Toulon)

    Toulon are hardly the bastion of good judgement. They hear of a player off contract and they try to buy him. But even they were a little embarrassed to have paid top dollar for former Chiefs prop Ben Castle.

    The Bay of Plenty man arrived last year and left six months later.

    He was eaten alive in the French Top 14 and came to epitomise all that was wrong with French club football - teams were crawling with overpaid foreigners who, having failed to make any impact in their own countries, were keeping out better local talent. When the Western Force offered to take Castle, 18 months before the end of his contract, Toulon said au revoir tout de suite.

    8: Chris Jack(Tasman to Saracens)

    European clubs could hardly believe their luck in early 2007. It was raining All Blacks. Chris Jack was one of the big prizes and Saracens snared him with a £280,000 a season deal. That was big money and surely worth it.

    Maybe not. The big lock never quite produced the quality his paymasters were after. Saracens were still wallowing mid-table and nor had they made any impact in the Heineken Cup.

    Jack was told a few months ago that he was free to leave a year early. New coach Brendan Venter looked at Jack's contribution - 34 appearances - and his salary and decided he wasn't good value.

    9: Nick Evans(Otago to Auckland)

    This might induce a bit of head scratching - Nick Evans playing for Auckland ... when did that happen? Precisely, it didn't, but it is believed Auckland still paid about $100,000 for his services.

    At the end of 2006, Evans was off contract with Otago but still had a year to run on his New Zealand Rugby Union deal. He wanted to play for the Blues in 2007 so Harbour and Auckland made him offers.

    Auckland's was bigger so he took that, played for the Blues and then went to the World Cup with the All Blacks and never represented his province.

    10: Shannon Paku(Wellington to Auckland)

    No wonder Auckland are shy of the transfer market. They don't have a great track record. In 2002, they signed Shannon Paku from Wellington. He was going to add zip and punch to their outside backs.

    What he actually added was more work for the payroll staff and not much else. He made two appearances off the bench for the Blues and then had three starts for Auckland. He left at the end of the season. Thanks for coming.
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  3. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    The NZ Herald always makes me laugh when they start talking about money.
  4. Cymro

    Cymro Guest

    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE (MunsterMan @ Jun 4 2009, 03:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}></div>
    Funniest thing ive read in a while.

    Could argue Lomu was not a great buy, he did put bums on seats for the Blues but had a few injuries that dampened his time at the Blues!
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