Silver Lake deal: Sir John Kirwan says NZ Rugby, NZRPA relationship breakdown threatens future of game

All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan has urged NZ Rugby and the NZ Rugby Players Association to mend festering wounds over the proposed Silver Lake deal.

The two sides are at loggerheads over the future of the sport in New Zealand, with NZR hoping to secure its financial future through a $390 million deal that would see the US private equity firm buy a 12.5 percent stake in the game.

NZRPA opposes the deal, proposing an alternative involving NZ investment company Forsyth Barr - a deal rejected by all 26 of the country's provincial unions.

A relationship breakdown became evident earlier this month, when NZR chief executive Mark Robinson accused NZRPA boss Rob Nichol of playing games in the media and effectively sabotaging the Silver Lake deal.

Speaking to The AM Show, Kirwan says the relationship is at an impasse and must be repaired to ensure the right decision is made over the future of the game.

"The relationship is broken," says 63-test veteran. "That's the first thing that needs to be mended. 

"We have seen critical boiling points in the sport in the past. The Cavaliers was one, professionalism was another and this is now an incredible moment in our sport.

"This is about the game going real pro. This is about selling some of your business off to investors - you have to make sure you protect that."

The 56-year-old wants the two sides to park their egos, mend fractures and move forward together, or a major crisis could destroy the game.

"What's upset me the most is both sides have sent out their 'Trojan horses' when they needed them and then taken them away, leaving unanswered questions. 

"The most important thing is to leave the egos out of the room, sit down and do what's best for the game." 

Whatever the outcome, Kirwan says investing money into the grassroots and the provinces is key - something the Silver Lake deal guarantees. 

The 'Legacy Fund' would see more than $200 million distributed over the next 2-3 years and would allow NZR to effectively inject capital into its stakeholders.

"I do think we need, for the grassroots of rugby, real insertion of capital."