Mat Rogers has confirmed a two-year deal with Australian rugby league franchise the Gold Coast Titans.
The move sees the 30-year-old taking a major pay cut from his R3,9 million contract with the Australian Rugby Union. The Titans deal will pay R1.9 million over the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
It’s been a year marred by emotional turmoil for the Wallaby utility-back, with the death of his father, Steve, in February and Rogers suggested that the move would provide the impetus he needed to move forward.
“It’s a great opportunity to start afresh,” he told the media at a press conference on the Gold Coast.
“It’s been a tough 18 months for me and this is a great way to kick off a new part of my life.”
When asked about whether the move would douse his desire to play union, Rogers was adamant that he still had a lot to offer both his Vodacom Super 14 franchise, the Waratahs, and the Wallabies.
“I’m certainly looking forward to the next 12 months in rugby,” said Rogers.
“It’d be good to finish with a bang and I can move on knowing that I have achieved everything. By no means do I feel I have achieved everything in rugby [yet], there’s still a lot to go.”
Wallaby coach, John Connolly, confirmed he was still an integral part of his team and shrugged of suggestions that Rogers’ move would eliminate him from his World Cup plans.
“No, of course not. The team will be picked on merit. He’s a wonderful player and [it's] probably fair to think, if [he's] fit, he’ll be at the World Cup,” Connolly said.
Rogers made a dramatic impact on Australia’s Tri-Nations game against the Springboks in Sydney when introduced as a replacement by scoring a late try to consign Jake White’s team to a 20-18 defeat. Connolly praised his role as an impact player but hinted that he would like to see Rogers in the run-on 15.
“At the moment he’s been in the 22 whenever fit and an important player off the bench this year, but you could probably see him providing more next year,” he said.
“He’s played very well at 12, he’s played 10 for the Waratahs and for Australia, he’s also played fullback for Australia and wing, he’s a very valuable utility player and there’s no doubt we’d like to work him into the team somewhere.”