Crotty’s lightbulb moment to stay
One of Ryan Crotty’s mates urged him to grab the money and leave for France.
Another chirped to the contrary, telling him to stop mucking around and put his mark on a contract with NZ Rugby so he could add to his 27 test caps with the All Blacks and keep representing the Crusaders.
No wonder Crotty said it was one of the most difficult decisions of his career. Eventually he put an end to all the chatter when he recommitted to his New Zealand employers for one more year.
Given NZ Rugby remains steadfast in its refusal to pick players if they leave the country, therefore protecting its domestic teams from being decimated by wealthy rugby oligarchs north of the equator, Crotty had a range of conversations with his partner, family, friends and the All Blacks management about which career path to choose.
‘‘But ultimately, when I figured out I was trying to convince my mate that I needed to stay, the lightbulb went off that I had made my mind up [to stay].
‘‘It was cool to reach that decision, and I am grateful NZ Rugby worked with me through it.’’
The 28-year-old believes a one-year deal is the most sensible option. In recent seasons he has preferred short-term contracts, using them as a mechanism to put heat on himself to perform on the field.
‘‘There were good offers from overseas, but I just have got to trust that if I keep playing at the top level that those offers will still be there when it is time for me to go. But my time just wasn’t now.’’
What it also does is allow Crotty to reassess where his career is at before the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
The fact a number of other midfielders have already agreed terms for longer periods with NZ Rugby will probably be taken into account.
Anton Lienert-Brown will remain here until 2020, Sonny Bill Williams and impressive newcomer Ngani Laumape are tied down until 2019 and Charlie Ngatai is locked in until the end of next year.
Malakai Fekitoa has yet to re-sign, and has been linked with French club Toulon.
Unlike All Blacks and Crusaders team-mate Israel Dagg, who seriously considered playing in Japan before deciding to stay, Crotty looked to Europe.
‘‘For me, it was more in France. But the passion to play here was what kept [me here] to re-sign.’’
He is confident he will have overcome a hamstring injury to to play the Highlanders in the quarterfinal in Christchurch on Saturday night. If fit, he will start at second five-eighth.
‘‘The Highlanders are one of the best sides in the comp,’’ Crotty said.
‘‘For us it is a final. If you don’t win, there is no next week.’’