Home Sports Rory Arnold becomes highest paid Wallabies player while Taniela Tupou considers overseas move

Rory Arnold becomes highest paid Wallabies player while Taniela Tupou considers overseas move


Wallabies lock Rory Arnold is reportedly close to a three year, $4.5 million club deal in Japan that will make him one of the highest paid players in world rugby and highest paid Australian.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Rugby Australia chose “not to insult” Arnold with an offer worth less than half of that to return to Super Rugby and, he will earn more than Wallabies captain Michael Hooper.

According to a report in Wales last year Kiwi Charles Piutau (Bristol Bears) and South African Handre Pollard (Montpellier) were the highest paid players last year at $1.8 million with  Eben Etzebeth, Finn Russell and Cheslin Kolbe filling out the top 5, all above $1.6m.

In the same Sydney Morning Herald report it was suggested that Reds’ lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was set to take up a deal with Northampton Saints in the UK Premiership while Brumbies youngster Nick Frost was leaving for Japan.

The SMH said there were also rumours that Taniela Tupou wants to leave Australia after the 2023 World Cup – which seems an easy assumption to make considering the relative spending power of northern hemisphere rugby to Australia.

Tupou recently added some fuel to the fire when asked about his future.

“Show me the money – I’m joking … I’m not joking though – c’mon (Dave) Rennie,” Tupou joked.

“I’ve loved it, am so grateful for the Reds, they really trust me and I think I gave my all every year.

“This year, next year I’ll do everything I can to help this team win and we’ll see how we go after that.”

Arnold’s move was flagged in January by French website RMC Sport, which reported he was going to leave Toulouse to play in Japan.

The player movement comes as Rugby Australia dithers over changes to Giteau Law, in bid to find the balance between a competitive national team and a preservation of the standards of Super Rugby.

Join experts Brett McKay, Harry Jones and Jim Tucker in this week’s edition of The Roar Rugby Podcast. Stream it live or follow at the usual places.

Dave Rennie has more to gain than anyone with a relaxation of the rules governing who can come back fto play for the Wallabies despite being based overseas but has publicly held firm that there need to be some restrictions.

He believes the lure of the jersey is strong for many players, and that was backed up on Wednesday by Waratahs fly half Ben Donaldson.

“Yes and no, I’ve thought about it a little bit,” Donaldson said when asked about the reports of player despartures and if he had considered it.

“But I’m more short-term kind of guy, I basically just look at the year that it is now. So I’ve got some goals for this year obviously and I’m really process driven, so week by week, I just worry about the game that’s coming this week, and then next week we’ll worry about that when it comes.

“I guess overseas, it’s definitely in my plans down the track, but my main goal is obviously to stay in Australia for as long as I can and play for the Wallabies – that’s the No. 1 goal before anything else.”

Ben Donaldson of the Waratahs kicks

(Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Donaldson is one of several bright young flyhalves lining up behind veterans Quade Cooper and James O’Connor, and impressed The Roar podcast crew this week.

“The Waratahs game plan was keep it fairly narrow, not do dumb stuff out near the wing and have turn overs out there,” said Roar expert Jim Tucker. “[Donaldson] kept it narrow and that was a sign of him being intelligent in game management. You want to see intelligence flowing out of their brains in all situations.”

With a Lions tour in 2025 and World Cup here in 2027, Donaldson said there was plenty to focus on.

“It’s very exciting for Australian rugby with all these big events happening in the next four to eight years,” Donaldson said.

“A lot of us young boys coming through, it’s not just me, but a lot of boys are really striving to be here, to be around for those big events.

“And me personally, they’re a few goals of mine for the long term. But like it is with the 10s, I feel like there’s a good opportunity at the moment and in the next few years to really push my case and keep improving so that I can be around for those big occasions.

“I really hope [people hang around], because there is a good crop of players in Australia at the moment coming through the ranks, a lot of boys really pushing their case for the Wallabies.

“But yeah it’s hard to say, the money overseas attracts a fair few players. But I know for myself and a lot of boys who I’m mates with, we’re not too worried about money at this stage, we just want to play well for our state and country.”

While Donaldson had a strong game in round one, he realises he’s in for a tougher test against O’Connor on Friday.

“It’s exciting, I obviously love testing myself against these guys who have been in the Wallabies setup for a while now,” Donaldson said.

“And like you said, play a few good games and you never know what might happen.

“The goal is to make the Wallabies squad, and especially coming up against James this weekend, he’s a class player, so it’s a bit more for me to try and earn his respect. If I can play a good game, I can earn his respect and then the [Wallabies] coaches as well. “


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