Steve Hansen says New Zealand Rugby owes Australian counterparts nothing and urged officials to be strong in talks over the future of Super Rugby.

NZ Rugby commissioned the Aratipu review to look into the Super Rugby model and put plans in place to rebuild finances after being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

There has been talk of reducing the number of Australian teams in a new-look trans-Tasman competition.

Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan this week compared the relationship between his governing body and NZ Rugby to a "master-servant" dynamic.

Former All Blacks head coach Hansen has urged NZ Rugby to stand firm when negotiations take place.

"Without being controversial, we have been looking after the Aussies for years," Hansen told Stuff Media.

"And every time we have required something from them, particularly at a high level, sometimes they have gone missing.

"Do we owe them something? No. But because we are the nation we are, and we care about the game more than just ourselves, we bend and buckle a bit.’"

He added: "I think NZ Rugby are in the mood for having strong discussions … because they only get one shot at it."

Hansen does not believe it would be a wise move to have more New Zealand teams in a Super Rugby competition and feels less travel can be a benefit for players.

"You don't want to be diluting the talent pool. And then you have to ask, 'Do we want our athletes travelling all around the world as much as they have been?'.

"If the answer is 'no', you look internally into New Zealand or maybe Australia [for a structure of the tournament) because it's not far away."

The Hurricanes made it back-to-back wins in Super Rugby Aotearoa with a 17-11 victory over the Highlanders on Sunday.

A dominant start in Wellington helped set up the Hurricanes' win as they scored the first 17 points of the game.

The Hurricanes moved into third on the table with two wins from four games, while the Highlanders have lost three of their opening four.

They broke the game open either side of half-time, with TJ Perenara crossing for the first try in the 28th minute.

The Hurricanes took a 12-0 lead into the break, Jacobus van Wyk crashing over on the right wing after a long pass from Jordie Barrett.

Devan Flanders went over to make it 17-0 to put the Hurricanes in complete control eight minutes into the second half.

Aaron Smith crossed for the Highlanders and Mitch Hunt kicked two penalties – the second coming in the 80th minute – but the Hurricanes held on.

There was no winning return to Super Rugby for Western Force as they were beaten 23-14 by the Waratahs at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.

The Perth-based franchise were axed from Super Rugby three years ago, but returned for Super Rugby AU - a new domestic competition arranged due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was all going so well for the Force as they scored 14 points without reply in the first half, Byron Ralston claiming the opening try and Ian Prior on target with three penalties.

The Waratahs roared back after a slow start, Gus Bell striking a blow to the Force by touching down on the stroke of half-time and Tom Staniforth crossing after the break.

Will Harrison booted 13 points as Rob Penney's side secured a first victory in their second match. 

The Crusaders maintained their 100 per cent Super Rugby Aotearoa record with a 26-15 victory over the Blues on Saturday.

Both sides came into the game at Orangetheory Stadium with three wins out of three and it was the Blues who suffered a first defeat.

Defending champions the Crusaders were 7-6 down at half-time in Christchurch, Mark Telea opening the scoring with a finish in the corner after being picked out by Otere Black, who added the extras.

Two Richie Mo'unga penalties were all Scott Robertson's side could muster in the first half and Rieko Ioane's try extended the Blues' lead after a penalty apiece for both sides.

The Crusaders clicked into gear to take the upper hand, though, Mitchell Drummond crossing following a powerful run down the left from George Bridge.

Will Jordan added another try late on and livewire fly-half Mo'unga finished with 16 points from the tee as the Crusaders moved six points clear of their opponents at the top of the table.

There was no separating the Rebels and the Reds after Super Time as they had to settle for an 18-18 draw at Brookvale Oval on Friday. 

Neither side could force what would have been the first golden-point victory in their second Super Rugby AU match, Reds full-back Bryce Hegarty falling just short with a long-range penalty strike. 

James O'Connor converted Alex Mafi's try right at the end to force extra time, though they proved to be the last points of the game. 

Two Matt Toomua penalties gave the Rebels a 6-0 half-time lead, but Filipo Daugunu's try and another O'Connor strike from the tee put the Reds in front. 

Tries from Reece Hodge and Bill Meakes, the second converted by Toomua, made it advantage Rebels. However, O'Connor reduced the deficit by three before levelling with time almost up after Mafi had crossed. 

Sean Maitland has signed a new two-year contract with Saracens despite the club's relegation to the Championship.

Premiership and European champions Saracens will play in England's second tier next term following their relegation due to salary cap breaches.

A number of the club's star names have been linked with moves away while the season is suspended due to coronavirus.

One player who will not be leaving is Scotland wing Maitland, with the 31-year-old – who has scored 29 tries in 73 appearances – agreeing to stay on until at least 2022.

Director of rugby Mark McCall said: "Sean has made an outstanding contribution to our club over the last four years both on and off the field.

"He has taken his game to a new level during that time and has had a great influence on some of our younger players.

"To have a player of Sean's quality and experience commit his future to the club is a huge boost."

Maitland's contract follows Manu Vunipola agreeing a new deal on Wednesday.

Ben Youngs, George Ford, Ellis Genge and Jaco Taute have all signed new contracts with Leicester Tigers.

The Premiership club confirmed the new deals for England internationals Youngs and Ford at Welford Road were "long-term".

Along with England team-mate Genge, who has reportedly extended his contract by a year, scrum-half Youngs and fly-half Ford had each signed previous terms in January.

South Africa centre Taute, who joined from Munster last year, has also committed his future to the Tigers.

It means 17 Leicester players have now signed fresh terms despite reports of disputes during talks due to the reduction of the salary cap for the 2021-22 season, with Manu Tuilagi and Telusa Veainu among those to depart.

Director of rugby Geordan Murphy said seeing the likes of Ford "showing a belief in what we are building here and the vision we have for Leicester Tigers is exciting".

He added of Youngs: "Ben loves Leicester Tigers and, like all of us at this club, wants to see it get back to where it belongs.

"He knows there is a tough journey ahead which will take a lot of hard work, on and off the pitch, and has expressed throughout this process that he is committed to whatever it takes."

Leicester were 11th in the table, with four wins from 13 matches, when the Premiership season was suspended in April due to the coronavirus pandemic, with only Saracens keeping off them bottom as they were deducted 105 points for breaching salary cap regulations.

The competition is due to resume from August 15.

Stade Francais have signed Telusa Veainu from Leicester Tigers, as well as Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler. 

Veainu, who can operate on the wing or at full-back, has agreed a three-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights as Leicester cut costs due to the coronavirus crisis. 

South African lock Grobler will join Veainu in Paris, signing on for two seasons with the option for a third. 

Tigers director of rugby Geordan Murphy spoke of his disappointment that Tongan Veainu has left Welford Road after almost five seasons at the Premiership club. 

"Murphy said: "We thank Telusa for all that he has given to Leicester Tigers during his time with us. 

"The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been lost on anyone and, while we hoped to see Telusa play out the remaining one-and-a-half seasons of his contract with us at Tigers, we appreciate the varying individual circumstances of all our players and wish him, his partner and child well in their next chapter in Paris." 

England centre Manu Tuilagi also left the Tigers last week after failing to agree terms. 

Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has signed for Japanese Top League side Shining Arcs.

Laidlaw, 34, retired from international duty after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and has ended his three-year association with Clermont Auvergne for a move to Japan.

The experienced scrum-half will team up with Australia flanker Liam Gill and Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi ahead of the 2021 season.

"At the Scotland Tests in Japan in 2016 and at the World Cup last year, I was able to experience the wonderful culture of Japan and meet wonderful fans," Laidlaw said in a Shining Arcs statement.

"Every time I have visited Japan, I was welcomed with a wonderful hospitality and I look forward to living in this country and becoming a member of Shining Arcs."

This year's Top League season was cancelled due to coronavirus and the 2021 campaign is not scheduled to begin until January.

Jordie Barrett returned from injury to lead the Hurricanes past the Chiefs 25-18 for their first win of the Super Rugby Aotearoa season.

In his first game back from a shoulder injury, All Blacks utility Barrett made an instant impact with 10 points and two try assists in Hamilton, where the Hurricanes survived a red card to Scott Scrafton on Sunday.

Scrafton was shown a second yellow card with 15 minutes remaining at FMG Stadium Waikato but the Hurricanes held on to score their first win of the 2020 campaign while ending the 0-4 Chiefs' title hopes in the 10-week round-robin tournament.

Both teams were winless heading into the contest, but the Hurricanes silenced the 15,031-strong crowd following a dominant first half on the road.

Barrett kicked two conversions and two penalties, including a 62-metre effort to help the Hurricanes take a 20-3 half-time lead.

The Hurricanes star threw a long pass to Kobus van Wyk for the first try of the match in the fourth minute before Du'Plessis Kirifi also crossed over prior to the interval.

Damian McKenzie slotted his second penalty after the restart however, Warren Gatland's Chiefs were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage during the closing stages.

Van Wyk added his second try of the match following Scrafton's dismissal, while the Chiefs' Lachlan Boshier scored off a long pass from Sean Wainui in the 77th minute.

The Brumbies nearly frittered away an 18-point second-half lead but held on to defeat the Rebels 31-21 in their first Super Rugby AU game.

The Rebels scored 17 unanswered points and Matt Toomua's third penalty with nine minutes to go brought them to within a point.

However, Will Miller scored the Brumbies' fifth try of the evening with three minutes remaining to ensure the Rebels came up short.

Two penalties from Toomua - playing his 100th game for the team - were all the Rebels had to show for their first-half efforts, with Andy Muirhead, Joe Powell and Folau Fainga'a going over to leave the Brumbies in charge.

They led 24-6 when Tom Wright crossed early in the second half, yet the Rebels came roaring back through tries from Jordan Uelese and Dane Haylett-Petty, both of which were converted by Toomua.

Yet a poor lineout from Rebels debutant Efi Maafu was seized upon by the Brumbies, and flanker Miller burrowed over to end any hopes of a comeback.

Dan Carter made his return to a rugby field in New Zealand on Saturday when he turned out for his childhood club.

The All Blacks legend, a two-time Rugby World Cup winner, played 80 minutes in front of a crowd of around 1,000 people as he helped Southbridge to a 54-14 win over West Melton.

Carter kicked six of his seven conversion attempts in his first appearance in his native country since 2015, the year he retired from international rugby.

The 38-year-old has signed with the Blues for their Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign but is yet to feature due to a lack of fitness.

"If anyone saw that game today, I'd say myself that I'm a bit rusty," Carter said after a match in which he played the full 80 minutes.

"It's good to make the first step to potentially playing again. I'm not sure if I could play at Super Rugby level just yet. You leave those kinds of decisions up to the coaches."

After the match, Carter uploaded a series of images and a video from the Southbridge dressing room.

"Love his footy," he wrote.

"Great day today playing with @southbridgerugby_footballclub thanks for having me."

Carter spent 12 years playing for the Crusaders, for whom he remains the top scorer, between 2003 and 2015.

However, his Blues debut could come against his old club in Christchurch next week.

"Whether I play or not, I'm not too worried," Carter added.

"I'll leave that decision to [coach] Leon [MacDonald] and the selectors up at the Blues."

Will Jordan scored another brace of tries as the Crusaders defeated the Highlanders 40-20 to make it three wins from three at the start of the Super Rugby Aotearoa campaign.

The wing dotted down twice in last weekend's victory over the Chiefs and he repeated the feat as the Crusaders maintained their 100 per cent start.

After Jordan's first score, the Highlanders hit back with tries from Shannon Frizell and Ngane Punivai, and despite two Richie Mo'unga penalties, a Mitchell Hunt three-pointer meant the Crusaders trailed at the break.

However, another Hunt penalty was all they had to show for their second-half efforts as the Crusaders pulled away.

Tom Christie crossed twice, either side of a Sevu Reece try, and Jordan capped off the victory with a brilliant breakaway score as he collected his own chip and went over for his second try in the final minute.

James O'Connor's late double with his boot gave the Reds a long-awaited win over rivals the Waratahs in the Super Rugby AU opener.

The Australia-based competition has replaced the usual Super Rugby tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, kicking off on Friday.

The curtain-raiser certainly delivered as the Reds ended a seven-year, 11-match win drought against the Waratahs.

The two teams were neck and neck for much of the contest at Suncorp Stadium, with Will Harrison's kicking keeping New South Wales in touch as the Reds scored three first-half tries.

Liam Wright touched down early on, before Harry Johnson-Holmes responded for the Waratahs.

Filipo Daugunu burst through for Queensland and then it was the influential Tate McDermott's turn to score, while Angus Bell was sent to the sin bin for repeated scrum infringements.

The Reds were less impressive after the interval and Jack Maddocks crossed for a brilliant try to give the Waratahs the lead for the first time.

But Harry Wilson soon went through and, although Taniela Tupou was shown a yellow card for a late tackle, O'Connor kept his nerve with two penalties in the closing stages to settle the clash.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett has signed with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath and will miss next year's Super Rugby season.

Barrett, 29, signed a four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Blues in 2019, but will head to Japan in 2021 before returning for the international season.

The star playmaker will play under Kiwi coach Milton Haig, while England head coach Eddie Jones is a consultant for Suntory Sungoliath.

"For me it made sense to go next year and then have two years back with the Blues and hopefully the All Blacks in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup," Barrett said.

"My wife and I are excited to head to Japan next year. It is an appealing place for a young family and comparatively safe in health terms.

"The Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa competition has been an amazing experience. It's been brutal and demanding which is what you expect when New Zealand teams play each other.

"I'm loving every minute of it and having such big crowds turning out has been fantastic. I am loving the move to the Blues and we still have a job to do this season. It is an excellent environment with great coaching and an awesome bunch of dedicated players.

"While the excitement about heading to Japan will build closer to the time, I'll also be looking forward to being back later in 2021 and then into the 2022 Blues season."

All Blacks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock have had similar agreements to play in Japan this year.

Blues head coach Leon MacDonald said he was planning for next year without Barrett.

"Our focus is fully on the current campaign but we have plans for next year without Beaudy," he said.

"He will be a big loss but that is countered with what he is doing on and off the field this year, and that we get him for two more years.

"We have Otere Black playing terrific rugby, and Harry Plummer who has been coming off the bench, while we will have Stephen Perofeta back next season from injury."

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