Wallabies and Waratahs championship-winning fly-half Bernard Foley has signed a three-year contract extension with the ARU.
The new agreement locks away the 25-year-old incumbent Wallabies fly-half until at least the end of 2018 and ensures he will be eligible for the Wallabies and Waratahs selection in each year of the deal. As part of the flexible contract, Foley will also be entitled to spend two seasons playing rugby in the Japanese domestic competition.
Foley is thrilled to have finalised a long-term agreement with Australian Rugby.
“I have an incredibly strong desire to continue representing Australia and the Waratahs, and this deal allows me to do that for at least another three years,” Foley said.
“I’d like to thank Australian Rugby and the Waratahs for understanding my desire to experience a new culture and rugby environment in Japan, while continuing to provide me an opportunity for represent my State and Country.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika explained that flexible contracting, although limited, would be treated on a case-by-case scenario.
“Flexible contracting is taken into consideration for exceptional circumstances, and I am confident that he will put his own well-being at the front of his priorities and thinking,” he said.
“Bernard is a playmaker who is still yet to reach his full potential and we need our best players eligible for Australia – now and in the future.
“Bernard is one of many playmakers in Australian Rugby that will be vying for a Wallabies jumper over the next period. This is the environment we will be creating – where players can challenge one another and ultimately make the Wallabies program stronger.”
Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said the agreement allowed the ARU to re-sign an important player it may have otherwise lost exclusively to an overseas-based club.
“This contract reinforces Australian Rugby’s commitment to having its best future talent remain in Australia on a long-term basis, to ensure we have an elite provincial and Test product available for our fans,” Pulver said.
“We are satisfied Bernard has a genuine aspiration to continue having a long and distinguished career in Australian Rugby, but we understand his short-term aspirations to play in the Japanese Top League.
“From a player welfare perspective, we'll continue to work closely with the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA) for innovative ways to improve the overall standard and safety of our players.”