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    More All Blacks on the way?



    <h1>Rugby: NZRU expects more All Blacks to follow Mauger move</h1>
    <h5>Email this storyPrint this story
    Tuesday January 30, 2007

    </h5>
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    All Black Aaron Mauger has confirmed a 2-1/2 year deal with English club Leicester. Photo / Chris Skelton
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    <h4>Rugby World Cup</h4>
    <ul>[*]Blow for stadium upgrade[*]Eden Park upgrade takes step ahead[/list]
    </div>
    </div>


    The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) is braced to lose more elite All Blacks after this year's World Cup campaign.

    Experienced
    five-eighth Aaron Mauger, who yesterday confirmed a 2-1/2 year deal
    with English club Leicester, could be the first of several Cup-bound
    players to sacrifice their test careers after the All Blacks bid to
    lift the William Webb Ellis trophy for the first time in 20 years at
    Paris in October.

    Mauger, 26, leaves for the current English
    Premiership leaders in December though made a point of emphasising he
    intended to return to Canterbury to wind up his career when the
    Leicester stint expires mid-2010.

    He also expressed a desire to play for the All Blacks when New Zealand hosts the 2011 World Cup.

    The
    38-test veteran hopes to follow a precedent set by provincial and All
    Blacks teammate Leon MacDonald, who headed to Japan after New Zealand's
    failed attempt to win the Cup in 2003.

    He subsequently returned and is now a fixture in Graham Henry's squad.
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    All Blacks have traditionally headed for English, French or Japanese clubs when their test careers were on the wane.

    However,
    the moves by MacDonald and Mauger illustrate stars are willing to cash
    in during their prime and then take their chances of making the All
    Blacks after they return home.

    NZRU deputy chief executive Steve
    Tew said he expected more players to emulate the pair, particularly
    given the significance of this year.

    "Some high profile players
    are at a stage in their career where they were always going to use 2007
    as a bit of a milestone to reconsider what they do next," Tew told
    Radio Sport.

    "Aaron is a classic case in point."

    He also cited MacDonald as an example of the door not necessarily being closed once players headed offshore.

    "He wanted to try something different. He made his call, had his two years experience in Japan and he came back."

    Tew admitted it was a "fact of life" some All Blacks would depart regardless of how the Cup campaign turned out.

    "We've planned for that. One of the reasons we went to 14 teams in the Air New Zealand Cup is to build greater player depth.

    "The (All Blacks) conditioning programme has also exposed 22 new players this year (in Super 14)."

    - NZPA
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