Former Blues first-five Tasesa Lavea believes too much pressure on young rugby players

The former Blues star believes NRL clubs are too aggressive when pursuing players.
The former Blues star believes NRL clubs are too aggressive when pursuing players. Photo credit: Getty Images

Former dual-code international Tasesa Lavea has weighed in on the Etene Nanai-Seturo debate currently causing chaos between the New Zealand Warriors and New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

The 18-year-old has been subject to a tug-of-war battle between NZR and the Warriors, whom he is under contract with until the end of 2019. Lavea is currently the head coach of Kings College first XV.

Nanai-Seturo handed in a letter of "resignation" to the Warriors last year, but he has not officially been released and is still contracted to the club.

Despite being contracted with the NRL club, Nanai-Seturo was picked for the All Blacks Sevens in Sydney last weekend and is featuring for New Zealand during Hamilton's leg.

Warriors CEO Cameron George labelled NZR "disrespectful" in an interview with RadioLIVE and admitted lawyers are getting involved in the discussion, which may end up in court.

Speaking to Brendon Telfer on RadioLIVE's Saturday Sport, Lavea spoke about the challenges young rugby talent faces playing at high school.

"South Auckland is a gold mine for talent. You are talking kids who are age from 12 all the way through secondary school.

"There is so much talent here and their families are often from lower decile places around south Auckland. You have big families with young kids to feed, and it does become a tricky situation knowing that there is a potential income, so you have to give them as much important and support as possible.

Etene Nanai-Seturo.
Etene Nanai-Seturo. Photo credit: Getty Images

"Etene was one of the best during his time there and had success. He enjoyed rugby and all of a sudden his passion for rugby grew.

"He was obviously passionate about rugby league when he was younger, but you need these young men time to develop to make their own decisions. They are too young at 14 or 15 to make that decision and a five-year contract is pretty stupid, to be honest."

Lavea was in a very similar situation when he was Nanai-Seturo's age. After he left secondary school he joined the Melbourne Storm, despite never having played rugby league in his life, and spent four years in the sport before moving back to rugby union.

He admitted some NRL agents tend to be calm, but said most of them are quite aggressive and will do anything to get the players they want.

"I've heard of both cases. Especially when agents get involved, they are trying to win the race obviously, and especially the boys across the ditch, the NRL clubs are pretty relentless and ruthless.

"The rugby ones tend to wait till the boys are in seventh form and give them an offer for an academy and then potentially a Super contract."

Meanwhile former New Zealand Sevens captain Karl Te Nana is hopeful the NZR and Warriors can sort their differences out

"I can see why both teams are trying to chase him, because he has a good head on his shoulders," he told RadioLIVE.

"He went around what he's dealing with the wrong way and he needs better advice on how to go around things.

"Not to put too much pressure on him, but I think he is an All Black in the making going forward if he gets the opportunity."