Honesty is its own reward, so it is said, but when All Blacks openside flanker Matt Todd admitted that he is happy to be going to Japan for a stint with the Panasonic Wild Knights, he honesty carried the secondary reward of a lucrative pay envelop stuffed with yen.
The rugby player with two first names will leave at the end of the Crusaders’ Super Rugby campaign and he will play for the coach with two first names, Robbie Deans.
Todd’s scheme seems to be play in Japan for a while, make some bank, learn from Deans, and then return to New Zealand ahead of the 2019 Super Rugby season and hopefully, more representative duty on the international level.
He already has 14 Test caps since debuting with the All Blacks in 2013 and even if playing in Japan will preclude his participation in the Rugby Championship and the All Blacks northern tour, but his stated intention is to return for the World Cup.
“I am back in New Zealand and signed for next year. I will be available for it,” Todd told reporters.
Todd will have to beat out Ardie Savea for the back-up role in the No 7 Jersey, and there is the risk that by making himself unavailable for All Blacks selection for the rest of the year, Savea will move ahead of him in the eyes of the side pickers.
Yet, Todd had to seek the correct balance between money and pride, with the uncertainty every rugby player confronts.
“You never know how many more years your career has got in it, and when you get a good opportunity like that (in Japan) – it is not only about the rugby, it is about the whole overall experience,” Todd said. “When this opportunity came up, it was too good to turn down. Having Robbie Deans there as a coach, he is obviously a Crusaders legend. He played a big part in it. There is less of the unknown you are walking into, when you know the coach and you know the type of coach is.”
Todd will have to be in Japan no later than August 20, which probably rules him out of the first Bledisloe Cup match in Sydney on August 18.