The Gallagher Premiership could be poised to play host to a number of Australia’s leading international players on short-term deals next season. Swingeing pay cut arrangements are finally set to be confirmed by Rugby Australia on Monday following lengthy discussions with the Rugby Union Players Association.

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However, to compensate for the loss of earnings, Rugby Australia are believed to have agreed that a half-dozen of its top stars will be permitted to seek out six-month contracts overseas outside of the international Test window. 

A Sydney Morning Herald report is claiming that players such as Michael Hooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua and Dane Haylett-Petty will be given the green light to take a leave of absence from Super Rugby and secure short term contracts in places such as England and the Japanese Top League before returning in time for the July 2021 Test schedule.

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The measure has apparently been agreed by way of acknowledging the long service the likes of 2019 World Cup skipper Hooper has given to the Wallabies, but this same leeway to temporarily leave on a sabbatical won’t be afforded to up and coming stars such as Taniela Tupou, Allan Ala’alatoa, Jordan Petaia and Isi Naisarani. 

Any departure of headline names would be a serious blow to Australia’s struggling Super Rugby franchises but with the country’s hugest earners volunteering to take cuts as high at 65 per cent for six months, it was felt the authorities were in no position to prevent these players from having the contractual flexibility to head abroad and make up for lost earnings.  

Finances in the Australian game are at a seriously low ebb with Rugby Australia set to apply for emergency funding from the relief fund established this week by World Rugby.  

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