The zone of proximal player development

Kia Kaha Roar Guru

By Kia Kaha, Kia Kaha is a Roar Guru

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    Lev Semenovich Vygotsky lived a short life, but it took years long after his death for his work on developmental psychology to be discovered in the West.

    Vygotsky’s general ideas could not be used or indeed published in what would become a totalitarian society, but to understand his theory you need to look at the political environment in which his ideas took seed.

    The new Marxist philosophy, which replaced the Tsar’s rule, emphasised socialism and collectivism. Individuals were expected to sacrifice their own goals for the betterment of society as a whole. The emphasis on sharing and cooperation meant that any individual success was seen as a reflection of the culture’s success.

    One major aspect of Vygotsky’s theory was the notion that the potential for cognitive development in children depends upon the ‘zone of proximal development’ (ZPD). What the child has already mastered makes up the bottom range of the ZPD and what the child is able to do with assistance from an expert or peer is deemed to be the ceiling.

    Full development of the ZPD, therefore, requires full social interaction. In other words the range of skill that can be developed with expert guidance or peer collaboration exceeds what can be attained alone.

    Vygotsky’s major insight was that instruction and learning are not a product of development but, rather, suggest a path for development to follow. His thinking on the ZPD began to take shape as he wrestled with problems concerning IQ and IQ testing and the traditional view that testing should reflect the current level of learners’ achievement.

    While children are biologically and cognitively different to adults, this has not stopped wider interpretations of Vygotsky’s ZPD theory. As the ZPD implies a collaborative process, Mark Warford coined the term ‘zone of proximal teacher development’ in 2011. This zone represented what teaching candidates could do on their own and a proximal level they could achieve through expert guidance.

    News of Lima Sopoaga’s move to Wasps at the conclusion of the 2018 season has led me to another interpretation of Vygotsky’s ZPD: the zone of proximal player development.

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Adam Binns)

    When looking at your ideal test team, it is easy to focus on the current level of your test incumbents and measure that against your reserves and upcoming players. The latter group is perceived to be the movers and shakers. Reiko Ioane, for example, usurped Julian Savea and Liam Squire knocked Jerome Kaino out of contention.

    The danger is to think that the test incumbents remain static in their level and that it is up to the developmental project players to prove their worth. Just like the top-ranked team, the best way to avoid other Test nations catching up is to develop your own game. This is what effectively happened to Savea and Kaino. Their game did not rapidly decline but, rather, their development slowed down in relation to Ioane’s and Squire’s potential development.

    The best motivation to improve your game is the sense that the competition is becoming fiercer. I think the All Blacks are at their deadliest when they are thought to be at their most vulnerable. For example, the Wallabies won the first Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney in 2015 and had the chance to land an even bigger psychological blow before the World Cup as well as bring the coveted trophy back to Australian soil.

    The same principle applies to individual players. The ideal environment for encouraging team growth is pushing your individual players to develop past their current abilities. The wider the ZPD, the greater growth you can attain. The best way to achieve that is to quietly point out to the incumbents that if things do not improve in key areas, there is somebody waiting in the wings whose ZPD is much wider.

    Unfortunately in the case of Lima Sopoaga, in a turbulent year of both enforced and involuntary changes, he had remarkably few minutes in the test arena to prove his worth not only to himself but also to Beauden Barrett. Barrett, in contrast to Sopoaga, had an electric Super Rugby campaign but often fell flat in the test arena.

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    There were certainly moments of individual brilliance, but against the Lions and many other opponents there appeared to be a lack of game management and composure to unlock the rush defence utilised to stifle the All Black attack. Curiously these qualities were considered to be the strengths of Lima Sopoaga, but the lack of game time meant that he found it extremely difficult to find his rhythm.

    There can be few places, if any, that are more intimidating to play your test debut than Ellis Park. This is what confronted Lima Sopoaga in the 2015 Rugby Championship. Three conversions and two penalties, but it was the vital break up the middle and the offload to Ben Smith that really capped off a terrific debut performance. This was even more masterful than Colin Slade’s late entry into the game against the Wallabies in 2010 that oozed composure and assuredness.

    He never really reached those heights again in the test jersey but nor was he ever really afforded the same amount of game time. It is hard to come off the bench and make an impact when your game is built on steadying the ship and laying a good foundation. Barrett enjoyed great success as an impact player in the early part of his career, but he has a skill set that lends itself to that style of play.

    The problem that confronts the All Blacks now with Aaron Cruden and Lima Sopoaga playing in Europe is not just who will be New Zealand’s flyhalves for next year’s World Cup but who will really drive Beauden Barrett to greater heights? Who will widen his ZPD? With the greatest respects to Richie Mo’unga and Damien McKenzie, they do not have the test gravitas of Cruden and Sopoaga, simply because they do not have enough test experience in the flyhalf position.

    When you feel your test jersey is at stake it is natural you start to look at your weaknesses and see where you can find improvement. Indeed the same applies to the upcoming players. Vaea Fifita was told to improve his physicality and he produced an eye-catching performance against the Pumas only to go off the boil in subsequent appearances.

    The All Blacks stuttered on attack and Barrett evidently found it difficult to operate when his space was shut down. Ineffective chip kicks, laboured passing and lack of patience – I got the impression he was trying to fall back on his natural talents rather than work on his weaknesses. The lack of collaboration meant that he was expected to perform on his own beyond his capabilities.

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    The Wallabies found themselves in a similar predicament with Bernard Foley. It was as if Michael Cheika was picking off his rivals with a selection sniper rifle. Quade Cooper was eliminated from the picture and it seemed no matter how unconvincing Foley’s performance was – notably his kicking – there did not appear to be any potential challengers to his jersey. Kurtley Beale incredibly was considered to be the backup for the entire season apart from a brief cameo from Reece Hodge in Japan.

    The zone of proximal player development is built on collaboration from an expert and a peer of similar skill. The target is to move beyond the player’s current abilities and set up the new proximal level. If you remove that collaborative assistance, you cannot expect to find growth.

    Vygotsky argued against the view of Jean Piaget that children were lone scientists and that they should employ discovery learning. With rugby players I tend to share Vygotsky’s view. Kurtley Beale was never going to improve his front-on defence without some expert guidance. I am positive this was something he did not discover all by himself going into that Bledisloe match in Dunedin, so it beggars belief that the same principle was not applied to Bernard Foley’s exit kicking.

    Similarly Beauden Barrett is not going to improve his game management all by himself. He is a specialist in unstructured play and makes good attacking choices when he is given space. Steve Hansen seemed to be giving him all the time last year to develop the game management side of his game under pressure. However, I am inclined to agree with Vygotsky’s view that “what the child can do today in collaboration, tomorrow he will be able to do independently”.

    I do not begrudge Lima Sopoaga and his wish to provide for his family at the expense of his All Black career, yet I get the distinct impression that heaven and earth were not moved by New Zealand Rugby Union at the prospect of his signing by a Northern club. There was no talk of sabbaticals or pay increases.

    That is a judgement call as there are limited resources, but one cannot overstate the importance of those players lurking in the incumbents’ shadows to the development of the team as a whole. If their presence is not felt and their collaboration is taken away, the zone of proximal player development diminishes and the pressure on the other upcoming players intensifies.

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    The Crowd Says (105)

    • January 13th 2018 @ 10:23am
      Old Bugger said | January 13th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      KK

      I have to say that reading your article made me feel like I had traversed from the “zone of rugby temptation” into the “zone of rugby frustration”…….but, what can I say – sh*t happens aye??

      All the same, I wish Lima and his family all the best on their next journey into the rugby-zone and as for my own frustrations well, they come and go, with every rugby season.

      Except, I just didn’t expect them to come, so early in the new year……oh well, here’s an opportunity for others to now step up, raise their hand and scream at the top of their voice……”I’m here Shag……”

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:00pm
        Kia Kaha said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:00pm | ! Report

        It’s certainly a big blow, OB. Now Hansen will have to develop either Mo’unga or McKenzie, which means either changing Barrett to fullback to give them minutes and rest Bender. But the most frustrating thing is that this is likely to see his growth for development diminish. Carter stepped up in the decisive moments at the last RWC. I don’t think Barrett is anywhere near that level of game management when the pressure is at its most intense. He was the final movement in the Bledisloe match in Dunedin but he didn’t conjure up that move. He finished it off. That’s his strength at the moment.

        • Roar Guru

          January 14th 2018 @ 9:20am
          Carlos the Argie said | January 14th 2018 @ 9:20am | ! Report

          Not a big blow. Hansen is a teacher.

          Oh, wait a minute! That was Ted. Hansen was a cop…

          Whatever!

        • January 15th 2018 @ 3:35pm
          cuw said | January 15th 2018 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          if it was me , i would BB on the right wing and give Mounga more time at 10.

          it is going to be interesting what the strategy is – as DMAC will play at 10 for Chiefs for the first time in a series of games.

          not having seen him at 10 i doubt anyone can say how he will be ( and that one off lions game is no indication).

          Mounga has been fantastic but had of days , especially when he stopped running around.

          the other guy to watch out is Garden bachop – was probably the best at miter 10.

          WASPS are really lucky to get the class of Sopoaga – this probably means Cipriani will go to Toulon as was said at the start of the season.

          • January 15th 2018 @ 9:48pm
            Jacko said | January 15th 2018 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

            Bmac played almost a complete season at 10 when very young abd cruden out with Knee rebuild 9 I think) but hasnt played there for a few years

            • January 16th 2018 @ 4:32pm
              cuw said | January 16th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

              for Chiefs? i cannot recall at all.

              DMAC came to chiefs in 2015. he played under 20 in 2014 team. ( cant recall where he played)

              2015 was the yea SBW returned to chiefs – that i remember for sure.

          • January 16th 2018 @ 12:30pm
            Bakkies said | January 16th 2018 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

            McKenzie got smashed playing for the Maori against Munster. The halfback serving him custard pies didn’t help either.

            • January 17th 2018 @ 10:27am
              ClarkeG said | January 17th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

              No he didn’t. He did not play for NZ Maori v Munster.

    • Roar Guru

      January 13th 2018 @ 10:36am
      Machpants said | January 13th 2018 @ 10:36am | ! Report

      Interesting read, Kia, thanks. However you seem to be conflating pressure from other players forcing improvement and having coaching available to enable improvement ala ‘ZPD’. It maybe that I am misunderstanding and that having other players around is coaching, as you learn from each other?

      Either way the loss of soapy is very bad for the highlanders and not great for the ABs. The worst is the loss of his test experience, Mo’unga is a better player for the ABs style* imo, similar to Barrett, but he didn’t have the bank of experience, even off the bench, that soapy has. And DMac is really unproven as a ten, although now has singe tests under his belt. We’ve only got a year and a half until the RWC, and if Barrett does a 2011…..

      * It seems the helter skelter style is to stay, with the idea of improving ABs proficiency at it for the RWC- then run everyone of the park!

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 11:17am
        Machpants said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        Actually having re read your article, that’s your point! Sorry for being a bit slow, move along, nothing to see here 😉

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:07pm
        Kia Kaha said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

        That’s it, Machpants. Indeed, the coaching set up have room to grow in this process as well. At this level, it’s not just a transfer of knowledge from an expert to a novice. The coaches in turn learn from the collaborative process and it stands to reason the bigger pool of talent you have to work with, the greater the potential for development.

        • Roar Guru

          January 14th 2018 @ 9:24am
          Carlos the Argie said | January 14th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

          When I was in business school, one night I had the opportunity with some other students to have dinner with the Chairman of Procter & Gamble, a preeminent consumer products company. One thing he said as his secret to success and one they tried too implement in the company was always to hire people smarter than themselves. he said his underlings had to be smarter than him. This way, the company would be better off in the long term.

          However, many people in leadership positions think that they are, like, stable genius and the smarter ones in the room. That is not how it should operate.

          In rugby too. The ones coming up have to be better (potentially) than the ones currently on the job.

          • January 14th 2018 @ 10:03am
            sheek said | January 14th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            Carlos,

            Your comments on leadership are spot on.

            A leader who is comfortable within himself will have the attitude of the chairman of P&G.

            Unfortunately, too many people who climb the corporate ladder are full of insecurities. That’s why they climb the ladder in the first place, to become, or appear to be, relevant.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 11:36am
      sheek said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:36am | ! Report

      Thanks Kia,

      Informative post.

      Now I have someone new to read up on!

      And I don’t mean rugby players or coaches…..

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:09pm
        Kia Kaha said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:09pm | ! Report

        You’re a voracious reader, Sheek. That’s probably why you make a lot of sense. 😉

        • January 14th 2018 @ 9:59am
          sheek said | January 14th 2018 @ 9:59am | ! Report

          Thanks Kia,

          That’s very kind, but some Roarers would surely disagree.

          I always seek more & better knowledge. Acquiring knowledge is a limitless pool.

          Except for my wife, who is an expert on many subjects she knows little or nothing about. But that’s probably a wife/female thing!

          Like one of my childhood heroes Ian Chappell, I don’t suffer fools gladly, or reckless or poorly thought out ideas. If I read something that is nonsense then I struggle to say otherwise!

          Diplomacy is not my strong suite. However, I’ve always believed, even as a teenager at school (which got me into trouble frequently), if you don’t agree with something, you should say so.

          Otherwise bad practices that go unchallenged, remain. Unfortunately, we see it every day in society because too many people are sheep & afraid to speak out.

          Once again, great article.

          • Roar Guru

            January 14th 2018 @ 10:51am
            Kia Kaha said | January 14th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

            When you put yourself out on a rock, it’s always good to know where you stand. 😉

            You remind me of the protagonist in Camus’ The Outsider. Many people find honesty disarming.

          • Roar Guru

            January 14th 2018 @ 11:59am
            Carlos the Argie said | January 14th 2018 @ 11:59am | ! Report

            Sheek,

            That has been precisely my cross.

          • January 16th 2018 @ 12:56pm
            Perthstayer said | January 16th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

            Sheek, you’re approach is completely wrong (my wife just told me).

    • Columnist

      January 13th 2018 @ 11:51am
      Geoff Parkes said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      Cheers KK, really interesting stuff!

      It seems remarkable to be talking about the World Player of the Year in these terms, but yes there is the sense that Barrett needs to take a step forward this year in terms of game management and control. I like that he has enjoyed a long off-season, although I suspect Vygotsky was not on his reading list!

      And just a small one, but even though we didn’t see a lot of late season rampaging from Fifita, I think the tour was good for him and his game, subjecting him to a high defensive workrate. I’d argue that he has progressed and is in a good place to take another step forward this year.

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:14pm
        Kia Kaha said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:14pm | ! Report

        He popped the question in Fiji I see, Geoff.

        Let’s hope he can also marry a style of control to his skill in unstructured play.

        Your point about Fifita is a valid one. You can’t expect a player with so little experience to come on in leaps and bounds. Even Reiko Ioane has a lot of room for development. Both Squire and Fifita are a work in progress but progressing they are. I wonder if Kaino will be utilised in a Mealamu-type role next year.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 11:51am
      taylorman said | January 13th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      Well said Kia, unfortunately its all doom and gloom at 10, our well developed depth wiped out in a matter of months, all thanks to NH rugby.

      Sapoagas heart wrenching tweet at making the decision typical of the unhappiness of having to make it, herded off like cattle to so called greener pastures.

      Our test results are going to start getting hit big time as the momentum of what really started with Piutau, increases. Its no longer a retirement pension, but rather an extension to many careers in some foreign land, where they obviously need help. Foreign aid we’ll call it. At least theyre paid well.

      Wasps home stadium has a whopping 1000 more seats than Forsythe Barr. That’ll make the transfer worth it I’m sure.

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:21pm
        Kia Kaha said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

        You add in Fekitoa, TKB and Piutau and it’s a disturbing trend in young players moving away before they’ve reached their peak. I wonder if creating a NZ A as well as the Juniours and organising matches is in the long run a more cost effective way of preserving talent.

      • January 14th 2018 @ 11:08am
        Fin said | January 14th 2018 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        T-Man,
        Last year Wasps poached Kurtley Beale from Australian rugby. The year before it was Piutau, and now this year it’s Lima. Interesting that both Piatau and KB chose to leave after only one season. How long will Lima last there? Grass not always greener.

        • January 14th 2018 @ 11:24am
          taylorman said | January 14th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

          …especially when they dont want to be there in the first place. These guys all go very reluctantly, despite the money. Oh there will be stories of them loving it, but thatll be because theyve made themselves do so.

          • January 15th 2018 @ 12:52am
            FunBus said | January 15th 2018 @ 12:52am | ! Report

            I know, T-Man, it’s ridiculous. The idea that a young family man might be excited about living and playing in Europe when they could stay in the same place they’ve always been, year in and year out in litle NZ sticking 80 points on the Sunwolves for half the money is ludicrous.

            • January 15th 2018 @ 4:40am
              taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:40am | ! Report

              yeah it is, but what would you know.

            • January 15th 2018 @ 4:52am
              taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:52am | ! Report

              “It’s with a heavy heart that I announce that my family and I will be leaving NZ at the end of the 2018 season,” he posted.

              “It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make but is one I’m at peace with.

              “I have loved every minute of being a professional footballer here in NZ. I’ve made life long friends and memories that I’ll cherish forever.”

              Sound like someone that wants to embrace NH rugby?

              Nah. And they’re all of that nature. If you think someone would prefer to shift camp to the other side of the world to work and be without friends and family then youre dreaming.

              Money. That’s it. If not for that. They wouldn’t go. And they’ll be straight back when it ends. Most are.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 11:14am
                Fionn said | January 15th 2018 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                I don’t know about that, Taylorman. I love Australia and want to live here longterm as it is my home. That said, living overseas and experiencing a new culture – especially somewhere like the UK or Europe where you are exposed to so many incredible places nearby – is an extremely exciting prospect for a young person.

                Many of those that have gone overseas have gushed about their new experiences and how it changed them for the better (Giteau, Barnes, Gill to name but a few). Fardy and Lealiifano seem to really enjoy it too.

                There is the added fact of less pressure and less time travelling.

                The money is yet another added bonus.

                I have no doubt Sopoaga will be sad about leaving New Zealand. However, I suspect that deep in his heart it is a bittersweet parting and that he is very excited about his future. He may even do a Genia or a Kepu and come back to NZ if he finds he wants to give the All Blacks another shot, or if Europe does not work out. However, I would be surprised if it was just the money making him leave. I believe that for most players it is more complicated than that.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 11:38am
                Bakkies said | January 15th 2018 @ 11:38am | ! Report

                ‘Nah. And they’re all of that nature. If you think someone would prefer to shift camp to the other side of the world to work and be without friends and family then youre dreaming.’

                Then why is Doug Howlett still living in Cork years after his retirement?

              • January 15th 2018 @ 12:20pm
                taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

                Because there will always be some exceptions, elsewhere I said most return, are you going to hang your hat on that as well?

                And does Howlett have no further paid work in rugby? If so Id say hes very much the exception.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 1:28pm
                Fionn said | January 15th 2018 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

                I don’t think that the provincial mindset of someone being born in a small corner of the world and wanting to spend their entire life there applies to many of the players these days, Taylorman.

                Most people want to see and experience the world. When these new experiences come with both less pressure, more freedom and an increased salary it is no surprise that more and more are going.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 1:50pm
                taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Yes, but it still is completely on the basis of money. Or are you saying by chance SHers only want to broaden their horizons in the NH? That NHers will never want to broaden their horizons in the SH.

                No, and why, because the moneys better. The ‘broadening’ as you say it, is something they force themselves to believe in, because what is the opposite. Some will love it, most will be convincing themselves, and most arent going simply because they prefer it here, on less money.

                If SR paid exactly the same money as they were getting in the NH then they’d be back like a shot, and yes, we would have more teams to accommodate them.

                I understand whats happening, I just don’t like it, or think its good for the game.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 2:16pm
                Fionn said | January 15th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                Haskell came down to the south. The Rebels just signed an English lock. Cipriani also.

                Playing in Europe or the UK also opens up all of Europe and North America very easily. The SH nations are all much more isolated, aside from perhaps South Africa, which has its own issues. Moving to Europe opens up the world, moving to Aus or NZ is moving to the corner of the earth.

                Also, the fact is that moving south means a pay cut, rather than the same salary, for almost all NH players. If their salaries were matched (even if not raised) by the south and SANZAAR made it easier for SR teams to sign lots of foreigners then we might see a few more despite the geographical USA option if Aus and NZ.

                Your assumption that they only move for money, and that they don’t truly wish to do so, is based on very little aside your assumptions.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 2:52pm
                aussikiwi said | January 15th 2018 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

                Yes but the traffic is overwhelmingly from North to South, (hence you have to rely on the example of Cipriani who tried to resurrect his career, what, 5 or 6 years ago now) so what is your point there?

                Its all speculation about motivation, but seems a reasonable conclusion that money is a central factor for most.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 2:59pm
                aussikiwi said | January 15th 2018 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

                Oops, meant South to North, obviously. Edit function not working.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 3:28pm
                Fionn said | January 15th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                Of course money is probably a central factor for most. I don’t think anyone denies that.

                Some people deny Taylorman’s claims that it is the only factor, and that none of the players want to go, and that they virtually feel forced to due to the money involved.

              • January 16th 2018 @ 12:35am
                Fin said | January 16th 2018 @ 12:35am | ! Report

                T-Man,
                Out of interest do you know what the kiwi players earn? I read somewhere that Kieran Read is the highest earner at $1M a year. Do you know if that is accurate?

                I agree with a lot of what you say. If you want to be a great rugby player then looking out for the best deal going around is not going to do it. It’s about working hard and surrounding yourself with good people and players. Brad Thorn is a fine example of that.
                Plus there are so many easier (and less riskier) ways to make money than playing rugby.

              • January 15th 2018 @ 3:53pm
                cuw said | January 15th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

                money is the main factor almost everyone moves for a job – at the end of the day playing rugger is also a job.

                very few in this world have some other reason – like being head hunted from an obscure place to take over a huge company or being seen playing a game in a village green and then taken to the town to make it big.

                this is economic migration , at a different level. those who come by illegal boats or hide in car bonnets in Europe are also doing same at a different level.

                if there is any other reason – then that reason is being lucky to be approached for such a contract. even then i doubt Lima is that lucky.

                lucky is someone like Simon Hickey who without much top level rugger in the clock got a nice contract at a very young age.

              • January 16th 2018 @ 12:37pm
                Bakkies said | January 16th 2018 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

                Having spent three years in the UK a lot of Kiwis there are over in Europe to explore and have a good time. You are failing to factor that in as it is lot more difficult as soon as you start having children and not working on contracts.

                When Chris Jack was phoning it in for Saracens you would often see pics of him at The Church having a good time with a few beers.

                You have players more from the amateur era like Fitzy, Zinny, Mike Storey, Lynagh, Ryan Constable who are still living and working in the UK or Ireland.

        • January 14th 2018 @ 7:05pm
          ClarkeG said | January 14th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

          Fin – Piutau was already contracted to Ulster when he took up an interim contract with Wasps.

        • January 15th 2018 @ 11:35am
          Bakkies said | January 15th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          Wrong about both players. Piatau signed for Ulster two seasons in advance and the NZRU wouldn’t allow him play for the Blues so he signed for Wasps for a season. Beale signed a contract with Wasps for one season and an option for a second which he didn’t take up because his mate Cheika had guaranteed him a spot in the Wallabies.

          • January 15th 2018 @ 4:32pm
            cuw said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

            and i think Piutau is going to another club at the end of this season ( Bristol is it?)

            so he will have played for five clubs in 4 years since 2015 ( Auckland, Blues, Wasps, Ulster, Bristol). 😀

            • January 15th 2018 @ 5:35pm
              Bakkies said | January 15th 2018 @ 5:35pm | ! Report

              Yeah going off to Bristol

      • January 15th 2018 @ 1:05am
        FunBus said | January 15th 2018 @ 1:05am | ! Report

        ‘Sapoaga’s heart-wrenching tweet’

        Oh the humanity. Already well off young man who could finish his career in NZ and never have to work again decides to earn even more money playing somewhere else. It’s heart-breaking.
        Spends 30 seconds banging out a tweet to keep the parochial, insular fanboys happy (no offense T-Man) and then laughs all the way to the bank.
        Of course, I could be wrong and actually there are gangs of French, Irish and pom thugs touring training grounds and hitting players over the heads with clubs like the old navy press gangs in the 18th century.

        • January 15th 2018 @ 4:42am
          taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:42am | ! Report

          once again, you have no idea. So dont bother.

          • January 19th 2018 @ 6:06am
            elvis said | January 19th 2018 @ 6:06am | ! Report

            10s of thousands of young Aussies head to England and Europe every year to work for almost NO MONEY. Why is the idea that a young fella might enjoy it so outrageous to you?
            Of course you write a sad tweet, it’s called not burning your bridges, just in case it doesn’t work out and you want to come back. It’s a bit harder if you tweeted “so long suckers” before you went.
            I remember writing the saddest resignation letter once to a place I couldn’t wait to leave, I just didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

        • January 15th 2018 @ 5:06am
          taylorman said | January 15th 2018 @ 5:06am | ! Report

          Oh, and you’re actually suggesting to take your comments from over Sapoaga’s.

          Ha ha. Fat chance of that, funless.

        • January 15th 2018 @ 4:46pm
          Fionn said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:46pm | ! Report

          I think the accurate description of his tweet is ‘bittersweet’

          ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow’ is a sentence.

    • January 13th 2018 @ 2:12pm
      DanFan said | January 13th 2018 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

      I often have discussions about the theories of Piaget. I will now have to consider them more in relation to the attainment of rugby prowess.

      I know that all of the younger players from the ABs that have chosen to take their pensions early would do so with mixed feelings. Could there be a more exciting environment for a rugby player than that of the ABs. There loss is sad but we move on.

      This is where the coaches will earn the big bucks by bringing up to speed lesser experienced players and building a team for the RWC. None of us can say for sure who will or won’t be on deck in 2019. Others will depart, drop out of favour in or be injured. But for those left behind it gives them all a chance that they could be the chosen ones.

      Funnily enough you would think that Julian Savea would have been looking offshore. So far, to his credit he has chose.n to stay and fight for a spot. I would’ve liked some of those that have gone to have done that, just to keep things interesting. But c’est la vie.

      • Roar Guru

        January 13th 2018 @ 8:24pm
        Kia Kaha said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

        I really hope Julian makes it back into the side. He’d be a great role model for future players who fall out of favour. His attitude really should be saluted. Ironic in many ways as his attitude particularly related to fitness was an issue when he was in the ABs. Just goes to show, patience is often required. Matt Todd is another example.

        • January 13th 2018 @ 8:49pm
          DanFan said | January 13th 2018 @ 8:49pm | ! Report

          Yes, Matt Todd has shown incredible patience and to an extent self-belief in that his time would come. Maybe there is a personality style at play here.

          • January 15th 2018 @ 4:38pm
            cuw said | January 15th 2018 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

            it is there is all humans.

            some people are willing to pack up and leave in search of greener pastures, while others take a more safe and sound approach.

            as someone who tried economic migration – take it from me – it is not easy to uproot ur self and replant, especially with a young family.

            that is why only a few try it – AND even those who do sometimes comeback home becoz they could not settle in the new environment.

            the best example i know of is MICHAEL OWEN the footballer of England and Liverpool fame. at the height of his powers, he moved Real Madrid but lasted just a year before heading back home.

            his inability to learn the new language was one of the main reasons for being unsettled at Real. but since he came back his career did not prosper , as it did at Liverpool.

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