Patrick Gower: Handout cry is Steve Hansen's worst call ever

OPINION: Steve Hansen made what is without doubt his worst call ever by asking for taxpayer cash to top up All Black paypackets.

Hansen's locker room chat with Finance Minister Grant Robertson wasn't cheeky - it was bizarre and outrageous.

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Hansen and all for keeping our best ABs from heading for bigger money offshore.

But do not use the hard-earned cash of taxpayers to supplement their mega-salaries.

The All Blacks are New Zealand's biggest brand - and that entitles them to huge privileges, such as commercial relationships that other teams and organisations can only dream of.

There is no question New Zealand Rugby is commercially big enough and ugly enough to deal with this themselves.

Hansen's argument is nonsensical - Manchester United is one of England's biggest brands, but it doesn't ask for a handout from the Government to stop players from going to Real Madrid.

That's why I initially thought Hansen's comment was his legendary wry humour gone awry.

Apparently not.

It goes without saying that if taxpayer money needs to go to top up any wages the priority should be nurses, police, teachers - the list goes on.  It should also be used to address the gender pay-gap - basically, it should go to almost anything but professional rugby players.

Hansen seems to be caught up in an All Black bubble and drunk on the power of the black jersey if he thinks his locker room lobbying for cash was a fair call.   

There is a time and a place for Government assistance for rugby, such as underwriting World Cup bids or assisting new stadium builds.

And it is not like the taxpayer doesn't help rugby already - think of all the money that goes to ACC for concussions, for example.

This is probably a timely reminder for Hansen and New Zealand Rugby to remember that rugby isn't everything  in this country.

Standing steadfastly behind Beauden Barrett was a great call by Hansen.

Asking the Finance Minister for a taxpayer handout was a terrible call.

Hansen has made a lifetime of great calls - this one was a shocker.

Patrick Gower is Newshub's national correspondent

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