Crotty’s light­bulb mo­ment to stay

The Southland Times - - SPORT - RICHARD KNOWLER

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.’’

Ryan Crotty

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