ARU refutes player drain criticism

Date published: February 10 2015

The Australian Rugby Union has refuted claims that its policy of only selecting home-based players for the Wallabies is leading to a player exodus to foreign clubs.

Former Wallabies centre Morgan Turinui, who is coaching in France, believes rich European clubs are opting to but Australians as they will not have to be called for Test duty with the Wallabies.

Turinui feels Australians are more in demand than South Africans, for example, as they can still be chosen to represent the Springboks despite being based at overseas clubs.

Because of that, European sides are now paying slightly more for Australian players.

But Rob Clarke, the ARU’s general manager of professional rugby, marketing and operations, disagrees and questions whether the player exodus in 2015 is much worse than during the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups.

“In 2007, 11 Wallabies left, players of the calibre of Steve Larkham George Gregan, Chris Latham, David Lyons and Sam Cordingley,” he told The Australian.

“In 2011, seven Wallabies left. Back then it was the likes of Matt Giteau, Huia Edmonds, Mark Chisholm and Josh Valentine.”

Several of Australia's senior players – Adam Ashley-Cooper, Will Genia, James Horwill, Sekope Kepu, Scott Higginbotham and Nic White – will also leave after this year's World Cup in England to further their careers with overseas-based clubs while Waratahs and Wallabies fly-half Bernard Foley has revealed that he will also listen to foreign offers.

And although young Test players like the Rebels' Sean McMahon and Waratahs' Rob Horne have signed deals beyond the World Cup, Test stalwarts like the Reds' Quade Cooper and Waratahs duo Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale are yet to confirm their plans for next season.

“They’re not in limbo,” added Clarke.

“We’re talking to these players and their agents. There is no crisis. We’re not asleep at the wheel.

"We know precisely where we are compared to previous World Cup years.”