Trevor Mallard, Gerry Brownlee defend $24k two-day trip to Japan

Politicians are defending what's been described as a boys' trip to Japan to watch the rugby, saying it was actually a trade mission.

But there are calls for Speaker Trevor Mallard and National's Gerry Brownlee to repay the $24,000 of travel costs and expenses they spent on their voyage.

There were 43,000 fans packed in to Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo to watch the All Blacks smash Japan on the weekend.

Among them were former parliamentary rugby team players Trevor Mallard and Gerry Brownlee. The pair took their love for the sport to new heights, jetting to Japan and costing the taxpayer $24,000.

And despite a great result for the boys in black, the Speaker didn't even enjoy it.

"I do like watching rugby, but would prefer to watch on television at home."

The pair are defending the sports diplomacy trip - saying it was a trade mission.

Mr Mallard even went as far as thanking his travel buddy for the sacrifice he made to promote his country abroad, saying Mr Brownlee gave up his weekend for the long-haul work.

ACT leader David Seymour criticised the the trip, labelling it a "complete waste of money".

At Parliament, $24,000 doesn't add up to much - but in the real world, it could be half a person's pay for an entire year.

When it comes to perceptions of splashing taxpayer cash, it's an argument politicians seldom win.