While the Kiwis are the top ranked international nation, and the country of New Zealand provides much of the NRL‘s talent, Richardson believes that more needs to be done to support rugby league in the Shakey Isles.
“Forty per cent of our players are of Polynesian background, which is wonderful for our sport, but they grew up in New Zealand and we’ve got to do far more and consider them far more in their view of the whole of the game than we are now,” Richardson told media Down Under.
“We can’t just rape and pillage the players across here and not do something about what they’re actually doing over there. It’s alright to sit there and criticise New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) etc, but when you’re on the smell of the oily rag that depends on Test matches and whether it rains or not to be able to operate a league, it’s the wrong way of going.”
Part of the strategy will involve setting up a second NRL team in New Zealand in the future, as well as offering more opportunities to Kiwi youngsters to play against their Australian counterparts in club competition.
“Part of the pathway here is to get at least two teams from NZ eventually playing in the platinum league, have Under-18s coming across and 20s playing in competitions in Australia to strengthen it, to try give incentives to those players and hopefully those players can stay at home to do it,” Richardson added.
“They don’t have to relocate themselves and their families to be able to participate in rugby league and we can grow NZ which I think is a gem, as we can grow Pacifica and as we can grow affiliated states.”