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Rugby Australia take drastic action to try to keep skipper Hooper - reports

Australia flanker Michael Hooper

With big-money offers set to flow in from Europe and Japan, Rugby Australia is trying to tie down captain Michael Hooper to a monster contract.

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They want him to sign on for a whopping five years according to local media in Australia, which would take him to the 2023 World Cup in France.

And it appears that Hooper is keen to commit.

“I love playing rugby in Australia. It is such a great place to play rugby.” Hooper told The Daily Telegraph

“There is a great talent pool and we have a lot of players coming up who are hungry to win, and that’s something that is exciting.”

Hooper would be able to command AUS$1million a year, but clubs abroad would be able to dangle far more cash his way.

In the meantime Hooper is just focussed on the Waratahs upcoming Super Rugby match with the Blues on May 5th.

“Next week is in my head at the moment,” Hooper said.

“You can’t get caught up in looking too far down the track. You have to focus on the here and now. That’s where my head is at.

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“These things take time (to finalise). There are a lot of things going on, as you can imagine. Whenever that time arrives, so be it.”

Hooper has played eight times for the Waratahs this season, scoring three tries, with a tackle success rate of 82.9%.

The openside flanker made his Wallabies debut against Scotland in June 2012 and has since picked up 79 caps.

Rugby Australia’s high performance director Ben Whitaker is keen for a long-term deal for the 26-year-old.

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“What I would say is that with a player like that, you want to see how you can engage in him in this environment for as long as possible and as long as he wants to, and as long as he is going to contribute at the top level,” he said.

“We feel that is over a good couple of years to come.”

They’re also determined to extend Israel Folau’s contract, with NSW Rugby chief executive Andrew Hore telling the AAP that keeping both players is crucial to the Waratahs.

“We’re trying to build something here and I think Michael is very important in our future moving forward and we’ve got a lot of time for him as a man as well as a rugby player. They are pretty critical for us to retain.”

Continue reading below…

Video: The RFU’s Chief Executive Stephen Brown reacts to Israel Folau controversy

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Folau has recently been linked to a move to the Premiership, with Sale Sharks reportedly interested.

He is yet to sign a new contract with Rugby Australia, with whom he is having much-publicised difficulties with in recent weeks.

While Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has said there will be no official sanction for Folau’s social media comments over homosexuality, the union’s relationship with the star has soured.

In a fascinating tell-all column for the Players Voice last week, Folau said that he had multiple offers on the table and could easily walk away from Australian Rugby.

“There have been things written about me angling to get a release from my Rugby Australia deal to pursue an NRL contract. That simply isn’t true. There have been rugby offers from the UK, Europe and Japan that are way above anything I could earn in Australia.”

Video: Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle and NSW Rugby CEO Andrew Hore on Israel Folau

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