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French clubs set to break Carter record to bag Beauden Barrett - and other post-World Cup player rumours

By James Harrington
Beauden Barrett and Dan Carter (Getty Images)

Dan Carter was on a reported €1.4million a year during his two-and-a-half season stint with  Racing 92 after the 2015 Rugby World Cup. If reports are accurate, French clubs are prepared to break that record – not to mention the bank – to woo his successor in the All Blacks 10 jersey, Beauden Barrett, to the Top 14 after Japan 2019.

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Reports during last season’s mad signature-fest at Stade Francais’ suggested the club’s new billionaire owner, Hans-Peter Wild, was working up a post-Japan World Cup bid for Barrett; while Montpellier’s cash-splashing Mohed Altrad is almost automatically linked to every player on the market, regardless of whether the prospective move actually makes any kind of sense or not. Racing’s Jacky Lorenzetti, too, is even said to be more-than interested despite a surfeit of riches at halfback on his books.

Flying under the radar, however, are ambitious Lyon, who have popped up from apparently nowhere to table a €1.5million-a-season bid for Barrett’s signature, according to French sports newspaper L’Equipe. He had been ready to turn down the deal, but the size of the offer has prompted him to think again, the paper said.

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Regardless of whether he ends up at Lyon, there’s no denying that it is the kind of money that’s hard to sniff at and it has set a high reserve price in what could easily turn into a bidding war for Barrett among the mega-rich European clubs.

But L’Equipe doesn’t end there. It lists a number of other players – almost-but-not-quite-entirely from New Zealand to the surprise of nobody – who are already attracting the covetous gaze of monied clubs in France.

Eben Etzebeth

Let’s start with the one non-Kiwi player. Etzebeth is – according to L’Equipe – the big target for Toulon’s Mourad Boudjellal after the 2019 World Cup. Boudjellal has been in regular contact with the player’s representatives for some time, and word is the club is prepared to break the bank to the tune of more than €1million a year to bring him to the Mediterranean coast. There’s just one problem, apparently: Etzebeth has a future in Japan in his sights.

Sonny Bill Williams

Another player who could smash Dan Carter’s salary record, the paper believes, with Stade Francais said to be leading the race for the former Toulon player, though the sums bandied about – as much as €2million – seems excessive, especially given the money apparently on the table for Barrett. Though, it should be noted he has apparently already turned down a deal worth a reported €1.35million from English Premiership side Wasps. In a previous life, he was a cult hero at Toulon, so don’t expect Mourad to pass up the opportunity to at least try to get him back.

Sonny Bill Williams (Getty Images)

Ardie Savea

Pau are reckoned to be close to snatching Savea for an after-World Cup party in southwest France. President Bernard Pontneau has made little secret of his ambitions for the club and a relatively quiet time on the market ahead of this season hints that he may well be saving up for a player binge next season. He has already hinted that he is close to some big-name signings. And, given the New Zealand bias in the coaching staff, it’s no big surprise to see the club linked to another All Black or two.

Marika Koroibete

The rumour list started with a South African. It ends – just about – with Australia’s Fijian dual-code international Koroibete. For now.  It seems Stade have the hots for the Rebels winger, who has just signed a contract extension with the Melbourne side through to the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season.

The rugby transfer market tends to go a little mad after a World Cup. In 2011, Bakkies Botha, Matt Giteau, Joe Rokocoko, Neemia Tialata and Sitiveni Sivivatu were among those who moved north to France. Four years later, Carter along with fellow World Cup heroes Conrad Smith, Colin Slade and Ma’a Nonu – not to mention Australians Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia, and Sekope Kepu followed their lead.

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As well as Barrett and the rest of those listed above, in 2019, out-of-contract Super Rugby stars include Israel Folau, David Pocock, and Nehe Milner-Skudder. Whether any or all do move north remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: every one of them is sure to attract the attentions of French clubs, as well as English Premiership sides on the lookout for new marquee players.

You don’t get more marquee than some of the names mentioned here.

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Red and White Dynamight 4 hours ago
Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks sloppy England to win Calcutta Cup

Up the Jocks ! a great team effort and 4 victories v on the bounce v their greatest rivals for those north of Hadrians. But, of course, before the celebrations survive the first pint of McEwans, it seems for some this Calcutta Cup match was merely 1 man v 15. What exactly is it about Sth Africans that make them such insufferable bores ? you rarely see Kiwis claiming Ireland victories (incl 3 x NZers) or Aussies for that matter (X1). You never see Samoans claiming France/England victories (Tuilagis). Or Fijians claim All Black victories. Scotland have had some great Kiwi-born players (S.Lineen/B.Laney/J.Leslie) - no surprise given their heritage - but they supported them as their ‘2nd team’. If anything they applaud their countrymen for taking opportunities and bettering themselves as professionals and, hopefully, competing on the World stage too. It takes some stratospheric level of stupid to ignore the opaque boundaries and qualifications that now allow Japan to be competitive, Portugal to win a RWC game, Argentinians to play for Italy, New Zealanders to dominate Tongan and Samoan teams - and not celebrate that World Rugby is more competitive and better for it. Everywhere on social media, even when the post has zero to do with Sth Africans (schoolboy rugby being the most obvious barrel-scraping eg - these are KIDS), they pile in and try to claim the “we are better/stronger/faster” with such voluminous levels of obnoxious bile, that it poisons the mere celebration of the sport itself. These are not ‘rugby fans’ that can marvel at the Game they Play in Heaven, but rather some misplaced insecure-fuelled poison that they need to extract from deep inside their psyche. Its hard to understand the exact reason for the massive chip on their shoulders and their desperation for the victimhood/noone-loves-us-we-dont-care, but it seems accelerated with their LOTTO Cup 1-pt wins, like gasoline on the fire. Obsessed with ‘cheating’ refs and ‘cheating’ opposition (Rassies video bloopers during Lions tour; McCaw’s whole career) and celebrating their own thuggery (#JUSTICE4 the dirtiest player in pro-rugby history), when luck suddenly goes their way (1995 Final vs an acutely comprimised ABs; Kilosi<->Cane cards in 2023 Final) or their players escape adequate penalty (Etzebeth 1-handed non-intercepts; Kolbe illegal chargedown; Etzebeth cynically retreating in the AB backline) so obviously that its clearly been coached, then suddenly its AOK as long its SA that benefit directly from it. The schizophrenic nature of Sth Africans presents them as good company in person - and lets face it, theyre EVERYWHERE now and cant get out of their own country fast enough - but as anonymous keyboard ninjas their true nature shines out as one beset with a dark undercurrent of toxic self-absorption. It appears that the bravado appears only under the protection of anonymity, a cowardice of insufferable reverse-flagellation to make themselves feel proud when the mirror stares back at them. Give yourselves a long slow clap. Well done to the entire Scotland team including all those born south of Hadrians Wall. Playing a fantastic fast pace of fluid ball-in-hands rugby that seems almost foreign to other teams. Och aye the noo.

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