Duco Australia CEO Rachael Carroll has responded to reports that All Blacks players will be a no show at the Brisbane Tens next month.
Reports this morning emerged the event would be lacking the star power of current All Blacks players, with the New Zealand Test representatives reportedly being ruled out of the tournament.
However, Carroll was confident that the weekend of ‘Rugby heaven’ will still go ahead, with all of its stars on board.
“Duco Events is surprised by the comments reported in the media regarding the player makeup of the New Zealand teams that will contest the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens,” Carroll said.
“We have received the provisional squads from competing teams and can confirm that those submitted by the New Zealand Super clubs contain ten players who participated in last year’s All Blacks end of season European tour – including the tournament’s contracted ambassadors.
“These players have indicated a strong desire to play in the tournament, and their Super Rugby clubs have selected them. These selections are now subject to ratification by New Zealand Rugby."
“We are negotiating with New Zealand Rugby in good faith to confirm these selections.”
NZ Rugby is bound by the players' collective bargaining agreement which enshrines a 12-week break from the game.
The Tens tournament is set to fall too soon since the All Blacks' last European tour match against France on November 27 and franchises have been instructed not to make players available, the New Zealand Herald reports.
The move would rule out stars such as Israel Dagg, Beauden Barrett, Ryan Crotty, Julian Savea, TJ Perenara and Jerome Kaino.
The New Zealand Rugby Union Players Association said there were never any promises about All Blacks' availability.
"It was known right from the outset that All Blacks that were on the end of year tour...there'd be no obligation on them to play," NZRUPA chief executive Rob Nichols told the NZ Herald.
"They'd only play if everyone agreed, i.e. New Zealand Rugby, the players, the franchises.
"That 12 weeks a year is very, very important and that overrides everything."
All 10 Australian and NZ Super Rugby franchises - plus French glamour club Toulon, Japanese powerhouse Panasonic Wild Knights, South Africa's Blue Bulls and the Samoan national are all set for the tournament.
“We have also received the provisional squads for the participating Australian Super Rugby clubs. These extremely strong squads contain well in excess of 20 Wallabies, and many stars of the future." -Rachel Carroll.
“Final squads from all participating teams are due to be confirmed until early next month, across the board these will contain a large number of current international rugby stars.
“The Brisbane Global Rugby Tens will be a tremendous celebration of rugby involving many of the game’s most exciting players.”
The much anticipated tournament, featuring former Wallabies Andrew Walker, Stephen Larkham and Chris Latham kicks off on February 11, tickets at www.brisbaneglobaltens.com.au