THE Wallabies are hardly crying at the news that Andrew Fifita has decided to remain in league, with national coach Ewen McKenzie declaring he is only interested in those who want to play “for the right reasons”.
McKenzie baulked at suggestions the ARU had offered Fifita a $1 million a year contract to switch codes, saying their pitch was based around the global experiences the game presents.
With the ARU struggling financially and having unwillingly stripped player contracts and match payments last year, they simply cannot afford to offer seven-figure contracts.
Not even Israel Folau or Quade Cooper, among the highest profile players in the game, can command such a salary in Australia.
“If you are financially motivated and you want seven figures, you’re not going to get that in rugby.
“We would have been so far last in terms of money it isn’t funny, the numbers in the paper are pie in the sky.
“We were talking about the upside of rugby as a sport. Financially, we were never going to match.
Fifita is expected to announce on Tuesday that he has signed a four-year, $3.6 million deal with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
He would have been looking at roughly $300,000 a year to play Super Rugby in Australia.
In previous years rugby has been able to lure NRL stars such as Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor with big-money deals.
But as the game’s revenue has fallen, and the NRL’s salary cap has risen, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the ARU could match the money on offer for league’s elite stars.
Even Folau, perhaps the greatest league player Australian rugby has ever poached, was beyond the financial reach of the ARU when he was due to sign a back-ended deal with the Parramatta Eels.
But a salary cap ruling by the NRL which prohibited his contract being registered for $400,000 a year in the first year scuttled the deal, and the Waratahs swooped.
With backing from the ARU, Folau signed a comparable one-year deal in rugby and delivered in spades before penning an upgraded deal that will see him remain in the game until after the 2015 World Cup.
Souths star Sam Burgess recently announced he is quitting the NRL at the end of this year to join English rugby, however the RFU is in a far superior financial position to the ARU and can afford to pay its players upwards of $1 million.
McKenzie said while he would always consider interest from league stars, it would be on the proviso that they are genuinely interested in the code and not just a payday, while adding: “We spend 99 per cent of our time developing our pathways from under-15s to under-17s.”
Looks like any recruits from League are unlikely in the near future.
Edited by boxhead, 10 March 2014 - 08:25 AM.