Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is on the verge of signing a new record deal which will keep him away from the clutches of Europe’s big-paying clubs.
He has reportedly agreed a 5-year contract which will cover the next two World Cup’s and to the end of 2023 and is said to be worth AUS$6 million.
The deal is expected to be confirmed on Friday.
Only once has Rugby Australia handed out a 5-year deal, that was for Lote Tiquiri in 2007.
The 26-year-old openside has been in negotiations with Rugby Australia for some time. In May he said “I’d be a fool not to give it a bit of thought. It’s what you do. It’s like anybody’s job. You’ve got to give a bit of thought to it to get the right outcome.”
“Look, I love playing here in Australia.
“Firstly, I’m so lucky to live and play rugby in a city like Sydney and I think Australian rugby has so much to give — so much to give — and that really excites me.
It’s unclear if it would allow him to have playing elsewhere during his contract such as David Pocock’s stints in Japan.
With over 65 international caps under his belt, Hooper already qualifies for the Wallabies ‘Giteau rule’, which could see him continue an international career while playing offshore. However, he indicated that he is still happy playing in his home country.
With a potential market value of over a million Australian dollars, Hooper has plenty of leveraging power to work a deal on favourable terms.
Earlier this week Hooper said he was hopeful of being declared fit to face New Zealand in the first match of the Bledisloe Cup as Australia’s captain continues his recovery from a torn hamstring.
Hooper, 26, suffered the muscle injury during the third Test against Ireland in Sydney in June, forcing him to miss the conclusion of the Waratahs’ Super Rugby season.
“It’s feeling good. I am a little off the pace,” Hooper told rugby.com.au.
“It’s the first real footy I have played in over six weeks, but I am comfortable in how the injury has progressed in getting here and I have had great rehab.
“I am putting myself in the best position to get myself right for the first game.
“Hiccups aside, with a week of training, I should be in a good position next week.”
Asked how he felt watching his Waratahs team-mates from the sidelines, Hooper said: “I don’t want to ever get better at that. I want to get back on the field, but it’s given me a different perspective at some of the great things that go on around rugby.
“It’s been enjoyable to give my body a rest, but I want to get back on the field.”
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