AUCKLAND BLUES centre Benson Stanley could yet be a transfer target for a host of European clubs, including Munster, according to his coach Pat Lam.
Australian-born Stanley, 26, made his Test debut for the All Blacks against Ireland last June and has won three caps under Graham Henry. He had been a reported target for the Irish province before taking himself off the market by re-signing with the Super XV franchise but Munster, amongst others, may not have to wait long to launch another bid to capture the hard-hitting midfielder as his new deal at Eden Park is for only 12 months.
“Benson’s one of our guys and he was mentioned as a Munster target but he’s signed up for one more year and he might shoot up there after that,” Lam said. “I’m not sure where, though, you’re never sure where a guy’s going to end up — Toulouse, Toulon, the English clubs, there’s a big market for the boys offering bigmoney that’s hard to compete with.”
Lam’s Blues squad is second in the overall Super XV table, four points behind the Queensland Reds with the New Zealand franchise having played one more game than the leaders. The former Northampton and Samoa back-row star is resigned to losing All Blacks-capped prop John Afoa and centre Jared Payne to Ulster at the end of this Super XV campaign and he told the Irish Examiner that losing players was inevitable for New Zealand clubs.
“There’s a lot of European clubs wanting our players down here and they’re making them good offers. John Afoa and Jared Payne are two key players for us who’ve signed for Ulster and we just can’t compete with the money that’s up there.
“The guys make their decisions based on their circumstances — wife, kids and I suppose you’d call it their future — and when you’re offered three or four times the salary they’ve got it’s just a little bit too hard to refuse, particularly those just below that All Black level.
“We had some big news that Dan Carter re-signed (for Crusaders) but New Zealand can’t afford to keep everybody and guys have to make decisions about what’s best for them.
“Fortunately for New Zealand there’s a big factory and plenty of talent coming through.
“So we’re losing Afoa but we’ve re-signed most of our forward pack, including (All Blacks hooker) Kevin Mealamu. So you’ve got to keep chugging on.”
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