Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says the ARU will put forward the best possible package to keep David Pocock in Australian rugby as "loaded" clubs table monster offers in a bid to poach him.
The Brumbies flanker is weighing up his future and English club Wasps has weighed into the bidding with an audacious offer to make Pocock the highest paid player in world rugby.
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Super Rugby season launched
The 2016 Super Rugby season was launched at Wet'n'Wild water park in Sydney's west with Wycliff Palu (Waratahs), Christian Lealiifano (Brumbies), Nic Stirzaker (Rebels), Matt Hodgson (Force) and James Slipper (Reds) speaking.
The $2.8 million is more than half the Super Rugby salary cap for Australian teams and would trump any offer from the Brumbies. It is understood ARU and Brumbies officials are working on a combined contract to get as close as possible to deals available overseas.
Ultimately that might not matter for Pocock, who is considering a 12-month sabbatical to study before returning to Australia in 2018 and 2019.
It is hoped Pocock will make a decision before the Brumbies begin their season in nine days, and Cheika said Pocock's upfront approach to negotiation had helped fast-track the process.
The Brumbies revealed in December that Pocock was considering a sabbatical from rugby to study and the club was open to all options for him to then make a comeback for the two seasons leading into the 2019 World Cup.
"I've been really happy, Brian Levine, his manager, and David have been straight with us from day one. That's given us a really nice, simple target to try to achieve," Cheika said at the Super Rugby launch on Wednesday.
"We'll put our best package forward to try to have him play rugby here. He's obviously going to get massive offers overseas because clubs are loaded and he's one of the best players in the world. Put two and two together and you're going to get that result.
"I think because they've given us a really clear indication of what he wants to try to do, it's given us the opportunity to present as good a package as we can. He's a smart guy, he'll make the right choice."
The huge offer from Wasps would mean Pocock eclipsed New Zealand World Cup winner Dan Carter as the world's highest paid player. Carter beat Pocock for player of the tournament honours at the World Cup last year.
Wasps have just snared the signature of former Melbourne Rebels playmaker Danny Cipriani while veteran Wallabies flanker George Smith is set to leave the club to move to Japan. It has been suggested Pocock could be a temporary replacement for Smith if he wants to spend a year abroad.
Cheika added: "We should be encouraging all our players to round themselves as people.
"He wants to do something that's going to further his education to go on and do the things he wants to do in his life as well as play rugby and I really believe in that whole rounded approach.
"Not everyone wants to take a year out to study but you have to respect what people have in their minds."
The Brumbies are giving Pocock time to make his decision with the start of the Super Rugby season looming. The Brumbies begin their campaign against the Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium on February 26.
Cheika predicted a tight Australian Super Rugby conference as he steps back from NSW Waratahs coaching duties to focus on the Wallabies. Pocock's future is up in the air while another specialist flanker, Liam Gill, has signed with French glamour club Toulon.
Cheika spoke to Gill before he finalised the deal to reassure him he was in the Wallabies' plans and the coach was adamant the Queensland Reds star's decision to leave would not affect his immediate Test ambitions.
The ARU offered Gill a flexible contract option to play in Japan between Super Rugby seasons, but Gill opted for a move to the south of France.
"I gave him a very clear indication of where I saw him in the picture and I was very keen for him to be playing in Australian colours this year," Cheika said. "I think he was very unlucky to miss out on the team last year because of his form, he played so well during the Super Rugby season … we really wanted him to be there but in the end he chose to go over to Europe.
"That has no implication on him for this season. If he performs, he'll be in. Even though when he decided to go to France I was really upset, it will have no impact [on his Wallabies hopes] this year."
Cheika will continue to travel to Australian derbies this year to work with Wallabies players and discuss plans for the international season.