Black Ferns stars react to signing watershed contract

Two of New Zealand's biggest Black Ferns stars are praising the announcement that 30 players will be given contracts under a historic agreement with New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

The best-paid players will earn a guaranteed $20,000 per year, with added weekly assembly fees of $2000 when in Black Ferns camp.

The players will also receive medical and life insurance, as well as access to KiwiSaver and additional savings top-ups from the Player Savings Scheme.

Fullback Selica Winiata believes it will take lots of weight off players' shoulders.

"It is going to take lots of stress and pressure off girls who were in two minds as to whether they could continue to play rugby," Winiata told Newshub.

"Just purely financially really, the balance of full-time work or study and then having to go away on tour, [wondering] 'Could they be in a financial position to do both?' but now it's all been taken care of."

Winiata said she would have loved for the contracts to be full-time deals, but she knows that's not going to happen right now.

"If you asked any of the girls, they would just love to be able to play code," she said.

"But we know realistically that is not possible at the moment - we just don't have enough Test matches in the year to make it viable to be full-time contracted rugby players.

"But if that opportunity came up, then yeah I'd put my hand up for it."

Black Ferns halfback Kendra Cocksedge sees the deal as a stepping stone to making the women's game fully professional in New Zealand.

Black Ferns stars react to signing watershed contract
Photo credit: Getty Images

"It is an awesome feeling," she said.

"Today is an important day for women's rugby and an exciting time for the 15s girls - to be given some form of contract is awesome.

"We all work and train already so it is going to be a bit of a bonus. Now it is about the future of the game and it is an exciting time.

"In five years' time, it could be fully professional - and that is the exciting thing about me coming to the end of my career - I want to make sure there is a fully professional pathway in the future."

In addition to the 30 contracted players, there will be a wider training squad which will cater for a further 20 women who will train out of Regional Performance Hubs throughout the country.

The women's game has grown exponentially across the globe over the past few years, both in popularity and player numbers. There's been a 150 percent increase in registered female players worldwide since 2013, with women now accounting for over a quarter of the total pool of players.

Up to 30 Black Ferns players will be placed on guaranteed retainers, paying between $12,500 and $20,000 annually, based on Test experience.

What the retainers consist of:

  • An assembly fee of $2000 per week.
  • As part of New Zealand Rugby's player payment pool, access to medical and life insurance and eligibility for KiwiSaver.
  • Additional savings top-ups from the Player Savings Scheme, through which New Zealand Rugby contributes at least $2.50 for each dollar a player places in savings. Up to a maximum of $3750 per year for senior players.
  • A share of the Black Ferns Legacy Fund, sitting at $100,000 in 2018 and $150,000 in 2019, to be allocated on the grounds of Test experience.
  • A parental policy, making $15,000 available to Black Ferns returning from maternity leave for child-caring costs.