Rugby: All Blacks icon Wayne Smith warns against scrapping $465m NZ Rugby-Silver Lake deal

As factions within NZ rugby stand divided over a proposed $465m US investment into the local game, one of its most astute minds has warned them not to blow this unique opportunity.

Administrators and players are at an impasse over the Silver Lake deal, which would see the American technology company pay a massive sum for 15 percent stake in NZ Rugby commercial rights.

While the national organisation could do much to strengthen its infrastructure with that investment, the NZ Rugby Players' Association has threatened to veto the deal, fearing the offshore interests would exploit Māori and Pasifika culture.

The NZ Herald reports All Blacks captain Sam Cane, senior teammates Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Dane Coles, and Black Ferns Sevens skipper Sarah Hirini have added their weight to to the campaign, fronted by NZRPA chief executive Rob Nichol and World Cup-winning captain David Kirk.

"We know many players are - and believe many other New Zealanders would be - uncomfortable with the thought that NZR was selling income-generating assets that relied, in part, upon cultural practices and understandings that they consider not for sale under any circumstances," the NZRPA has reportedly written to NZ Rugby.

"There is an inherent risk of real or perceived cultural misappropriation, given Silver Lake is an Anglo-American private equity firm."

The NZRPA has proposed alternative ways of raising the finance, but former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith has cautioned them that NZ rugby desperately needs a windfall of this kind to continue growing the game.

"All I know is we need the money," Smith has told Sky Sport's Breakdown. "We need money to invest, so we're not just reliant on filling stadiums to keep the game going.

"Somehow we need to get the capital, have people with the capability to invest that money and make sure we always have a fund there for the game.

"A certain amount of that money must go to clubs and the community. We always ask about why doesn't community support us, but we have to change the question - how do we help community?

"I think that's the way to get them involved again. Most of the volunteers are my age or older now, so you need money to get the right people in the right places."

The various sides are due to meet this week to resolve the deadlock.

"Don't underestimate how important this is for our game and a key moment," All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan tells Breakdown. "We don't want to make mistakes, so we need to sit down and make sure we make the right decision.

"And it needs to happen quick, because they will take that cheque off the table."