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ARU cutting back on long-term player deals

Fell out of favour with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans ... Matt Giteau.

Fell out of favour with Wallabies coach Robbie Deans ... Matt Giteau. Photo: Getty Images

THE days of the long Wallabies' player contracts are over.

After several seasons where leading performers were able to secure lucrative three-year contracts, the Herald has been told the Australian Rugby Union will now be offering either one or two-year deals to the code's leading players.

The ARU has opted for shorter contracts to cut down its exposure to players who are on long-term deals, but have become ''underperforming assets'' by either being out of form, injured or have no possibility of becoming a Wallaby. It will also put the pressure on numerous fringe players to continue performing.

Intensity ... Lachie Turner gets ready to pass at Waratahs training at Victoria Barracks yesterday.

Intensity ... Lachie Turner gets ready to pass at Waratahs training at Victoria Barracks yesterday. Photo: Quentin Jones

The ARU had been concerned that for some years there were numerous players nearing the end of their careers at provincial level who had substantial ARU top-ups, and were commanding salaries of around $400,000 to 450,000 even though there was no likelihood of them again playing Test rugby.

Wallabies and Reds winger Digby Ioane could easily be the last player to secure a long national contract, after the ARU and Queensland late last year signed him to a three-year deal, so that he did not leave for Japan, where he had been offered a seven-figure sum.

Putting even more pressure on provincial players to perform is that the ARU recently announced it was dramatically cutting back the number of ''top-up'' contracts it would offer per year. Four years ago, the number of players on top-ups was 54. This year it will be between 30 and 35, with 32 the anticipated final number.

When ARU chief executive John O'Neill revealed the cutbacks this month, he said that having 54 players on national contracts ''was, for a lot of reasons, too many, unsustainable, highly impractical and too costly''.

This restriction and shorter contracts are bound to see more Australian provincial players who are in their final seasons of Super Rugby having to look overseas, where they are likely to get more lucrative offers than what can provided by their province. Many players, including several at the Waratahs, are well into negotiations or are near to finalising deals with northern hemisphere clubs because they realise they have little chance of securing an ARU contract.

Adding to the uncertainty is that the players must finalise their provincial contracts before going into negotiations over their Wallabies deals. The Australian provinces are also awaiting final confirmation of what their salary cap will be next season, with the most likely scenario being $4.8 million, but at least the last $800,000 of that must come from the province. This was aimed at making the Australian provinces more accountable, and working within their own budget constraints.

The Waratahs also may wait another week before picking Rocky Elsom, with the selectors likely to stick with the line-up that defeated the Force for Saturday night's match against the Rebels in Sydney.

Elsom, who has not played this season, was expected to be available this week, but only had minimal involvement in yesterday's training session. He is expected to train this morning. NSW selectors will then decide whether he will be available for the match against the Rebels.

Waratahs coach Michael Foley last night appeared to be eager to stick with the status quo. When asked if his captain would return via the bench on Saturday night, Foley said: ''That's a possibility. But the guys who have been involved have played very well. Unless one of those guys was carrying a niggle, or needed a rest, I would think they would be the ones we would go with.''

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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