'Sometimes the jersey is not enough for a better life' - Lima Sopoaga

'Sometimes the jersey is not enough for a better life' - Lima Sopoaga

Wasps' fly-half Lima Sopoaga believes the player drain from New Zealand to Europe will increase in the future because the lure of the All Blacks jersey no longer outweighs the financial incentives on offer in the northern hemisphere.


 

In an interview with The Guardian Sopoaga said that he believes that the trend will of players leaving New Zealand in their prime will continue with players making the 'business' decision to seek their fortunes in Europe.

 

The 27-year-old All Black fly-half made his debut for Wasps last weekend and is in contention to start against Leicester on Sunday, following his arrival from the Highlanders.

 

For years, New Zealand has managed to hold on to the bulk of their top talents by refusing to pick players based abroad. With the allure of the All Blacks jersey guarded against a mass migration, but Sopoaga believes that others are ready to give their best years to clubs offering lucrative deals in the northern hemisphere, stating that 'The jersey is not enough.' 

 

'I do think that things are starting to change and players are starting to wise up,' he said told The Guardian. 'They realise that it's a business these days. When you've got it, you've got it, but when you don't, clubs aren't going to be afraid to cut you.

'For players these days, a lot of us are starting to talk to each other more and talk about experiences and about how we can benefit from the game, because it is a business and it can be pretty cut-throat. That's the way it is. Players are starting to wise up to that.' 

 

New Zealanders used to head north in search of a last big contract before retiring, but Sopoaga believes that more 20-somethings are considering that career-defining step.

 

He added: 'I think it is a pattern. For a lot of guys like myself, who come from big families, from low socio-economic backgrounds, the chance to change your family's life is pretty overwhelming. It's not something you should take lightly.

'Sometimes the jersey is not enough for a better life. It is special when you do get it, the experiences you do have are pretty surreal, but down the track those things don't pay for a roof over your head.'

 

Sopoaga is not the only player to leave New Zealand in his prime with the likes of Charles Piutau, Charlie Faumuina, Malakai Fekitoa, Aaron Cruden and Julian Savea all departing New Zealand in their 20s.

 

 

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