The New Zealand Rugby Union has put a NZ,000 (US,000; 35,000) price tag on disgruntled All Black Luke McAlister's plans for an early departure to French club Toulouse.
The 30-Test veteran McAlister has in the past received favourable treatment from the New Zealand hierarchy, but that relationship appeared severed after McAlister was excluded from the Tri-Nations squad named last Sunday.
The inside centre, who is due to join Toulouse on a three-year deal later this year, was then dropped from his provincial North Harbour side after failing to turn up for training.
McAlister's father and agent, Charlie, said publicly McAlister was caring for an ill son who has a heart condition, but the NZRU said Charlie McAlister told them his son wanted out of New Zealand rugby.
"Charlie has asked for Luke to be released early to join Toulouse. He doesn't want to play [New Zealand domestic rugby]," NZRU General Manager of Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen told Fairfax Media.
"If you had a sick kid you would ring your employer. To be frank, using the family type excuse, tugging on the heartstrings, wears a bit thin when this guy is hoping in the next couple of days he can disappear to France."
Sorenson said McAlister is contracted to New Zealand and North Harbour until the end of the year and they would only approve an early departure if they received a release payment.
The maximum salary at provincial level is NZ,000 and "I would imagine that he'd be on that," Sorensen said.
Although McAlister was not wanted for the Tri-Nations series, he remained in contention for the World Cup squad, especially if one of the incumbents was injured, and Sorenson said it was disappointing he did not want to stay.
"It's not as if this guy hasn't been given chances in New Zealand rugby," Sorensen said.
"This is not the first time he's gone to seek his fortune offshore. We went to a lot of time, effort and expense to bring him back because we thought he could add some value."
McAlister was a central figure in the All Blacks’ quarter-final loss to France in the last World Cup when he was sinbinned early in the second half and France scored 10 points while he was off the field.
He then took up a lucrative contract to play in England but was wooed back two years later when first-choice fly-half Dan Carter was injured.
New Zealand even changed its eligibility rules so McAlister could then play international rugby despite having not played domestic rugby that season.
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