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Players 'crazy' not to consider overseas sabbaticals

Matt Toomua could be a target for cashed-up overseas clubs.

Matt Toomua could be a target for cashed-up overseas clubs. Photo: Getty Images

Australia's best players would be "crazy" if they did not consider rich sabbatical deals overseas, ACT Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said, and he believes the ARU's new "flexible contracts" will stop the game from going broke.

But Larkham does fear the Brumbies could suffer if too many of the club's stars negotiate temporary stints in lucrative competitions such as France or Japan.

From 2016, the ARU will allow Wallabies players to spend one season on an international "sabbatical" if they commit to the Wallabies for three or more years.

Super Rugby clubs will also be free to negotiate a deal for one player outside the Wallabies system to cash in on a contract abroad.

Wallabies greats Larkham and George Gregan, who finished their careers in Japan, said the new protocols were in the best interests of the game.

The former Test halves believe such a rule could have kept star players such as George Smith, Ben Mowen and Matt Giteau in Australian rugby.

But Larkham admitted it could come at a cost of playing personnel for Australian Super Rugby teams. The ARU will "exclusively" negotiate the deals with its top players and ensure the Wallabies are "sufficiently strong".

"Everyone will look at [a sabbatical]; they'd be crazy not to," Larkham said.

"The ARU will make a decision on how many and who. It's a way for the ARU to keep the top players ... without becoming bankrupt.

"Depending on how many go, it's slightly concerning because the pre-season for Super Rugby is so short now. Your career in rugby is finite and there's some really good money on offer overseas."

The Brumbies re-signed a host of Wallabies stars this year, including Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Scott Fardy, Joseph Tomane and Scott Sio.

The challenge will come after the World Cup next year, when cashed-up clubs in France and Japan will look to lure the best players in the world to join their teams.

The ARU has settled on its new protocols, but it is understood it also put forward a proposal that would allow players who had given 50 Tests of service to the Wallabies to spend a year overseas.

Giteau played 92 Tests for Australia before moving to Toulon, regarded as the richest club in the world.

But the former Brumbies playmaker is still playing well enough to warrant selection in the Wallabies.

The cash-strapped ARU has been struggling to match the rich deals of overseas rivals.

The new flexible contracts could play a major role in cross-code superstar Israel Folau staying in rugby, with the lure of playing Sevens at the 2016 Olympic Games also a massive carrot.

In the past, players have only been eligible to play for the Wallabies if they play in Australia, putting the lure of the Test jersey up against big dollars on offer overseas.

Larkham moved to Scotland after retiring from Australian rugby in 2007 and then finished his career with the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan.

Gregan finished his career by playing with Toulon in France and Suntory in Japan. 

"It's a good thing for Australian rugby ... once they clarify the qualifications, it's a great idea," Gregan said.

"If it's managed well it can work for both parties. Players don't miss out financially and they come back refreshed and reinvigorated with that drive again.

"Some people think it's just running away for the cash, but from a financial perspective the players have to be entitled to that and it will help with the financial stress in Australian rugby."

HuffPost Australia

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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