Wallaby star Quade Cooper is at the centre of a bidding war as National Rugby League club Parramatta put
the pressure on Australia rugby chiefs to keep hold of the in-demand star by tabling a massive offer.
As Cooper enters the Wallabies’ training camp ahead of this week’s trip to
South Africa, the Eels are raising the stakes in a deal that would make him the
highest-paid player in the NRL, reports said.
Fly-half Cooper, rated the Wallabies’ most influential player and recently
named Australia’s Super 14 player of the year, is in the midst of contract
renewal negotiations with the Australian Rugby Union a year away from the World
Newspapers’ accounts of what Parramatta are offering 22-year-old Cooper
range from 850,000 dollars (760,000 US) a year to a three-year 500,000 dollar
per season deal to convince the Queensland Reds maestro to switch codes.
The Sydney Morning Herald said not only would the Parramatta deal make
Cooper the highest-paid player in the NRL, it would also dwarf the reported
400,000 dollar offer put to him by the ARU.
ARU boss John O’Neill last week dismissed the reports of NRL interest as a
negotiation stunt by the player’s agent and said Cooper would not be lost to
“He’s got the world at his feet in our game, he’s got a World Cup next
year, he’s a player we want to retain and we’re confident in the coming week or
so we’ll have a satisfactory deal done,” O’Neill told reporters.
Reports Monday said Cooper is far from the highest-paid Wallabies player
and his deal is understood to be worth less than 300,000 dollars a year, with
the ARU paying 110,000 dollars on top of the 150,000 dollars he receives from
the Queensland Reds.
But the ARU offer would be enhanced because players have the opportunity to
earn 12,500 dollars for each Test they play.
Cooper grew up playing both league and union until 17 and has an ambition
to one day play in the NRL, but said last week playing rugby for the Wallabies
and Reds remained his priority.
Reports said Cooper and his agent met last Thursday with Parramatta Eels
officials and their star fullback Jarryd Hayne.
Parramatta chairman Roy Spagnolo told the Daily Telegraph the Eels would
have no issues fitting Cooper into their 4.2 million dollar NRL salary cap next
season because of player departures and retirements.