ARU cough up to keep Tuqiri

The Australian Rugby Union is planning to offer Lote Tuqiri a A$1million salary in order to avoid him reverting back to league.

If Tuqiri agrees to terms, he will remain in rugby union until the 2011 World Cup. The deal will also make him the highest paid rugby player in Australia.

The Waratahs winger still has a year left on his contract, but after the murmurings of his following teammate Mat Rogers back to the 13-man game after the 2007 World Cup, the ARU is keen to secure his services. He will be offered the deal when he returns from the Wallabies’ tour of Europe.

“There is acknowledgement we have to get in early,” a source at the ARU told The Daily Telegraph. “Everyone is aware of that. For Lote it’s a case of right place, right time and it could mean he becomes the first Australian rugby player to crash through the seven-figure barrier.”

Matt Giteau signed a A$1.5million contract earlier this year, but the ARU and Western Force are paying half of this amount, while the rest is supplied by sponsors. The sum offered to Tuqiri, however, will be paid entirely by the ARU and his franchise, the Waratahs. This means that he could make far more through other endorsement deals.