Former All Blacks centre Ma’a Nonu will become the first million-pound a year player if Bristol owner Steve Lansdown can get his man.
British billionaire Lansdown, who financed Bristol’s promotion to the Premiership, wants his club to conquer the English and European club rugby scene and doesn’t hide the fact that a player like Nonu is top of his shopping list.
“Sport is as entertainment business,” Lansdown told the Daily Mail.
The market is dictating these glamour signings…I’m sure the first million-pound player isn’t that far away.
“If I attract 27,000 to watch my team on a regular basis, I should be able to reinvest in the squad. Of course, we’d like to attract someone like Ma’a Nonu.
“The ambition is to get the best possible players on our pitch. I’d like to develop them ourselves (but) every now and then you supplement them.”
Nonu, who joined Toulon after winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup with New Zealand, is in his second year of a two-year contract with the Top 14 outfit.
Lansdown, who is also a majority shareholder of Bristol City Football Club, feels “star power” is vital for success and proven Test rugby stars like Nonu, who won 103 caps with the All Blacks, are the prime targets.
“The international game has far greater influence in rugby,” added Lansdown.
“The (English) FA are a bit of a laughing stock after the Euros. How does the national side inspire people like it did in 1966? It’s just not there.
“People pay extra to see Usain Bolt, don’t they? Football is so far ahead in monetary terms but rugby is creeping that way with the expectations of players and agents.
“TV money is going up and agents are demanding longer contracts which develops a transfer market. When you see Manchester United paying £89m for Paul Pogba, you realise there’s a long way to go, but it could still go that way.” [Planet Rugby]