Wallabies captain Michael Hooper is expected to announce his decision to stay in Australia on a five-year deal.
Hooper has committed himself to the Wallabies and Waratahs for five years on a deal worth close to AU$6million (NZ$6.69m), News Corp reported, through to 2023, meaning he would be available for the next two World Cups in 2019 and 2023 in Japan and France respectively.
It is only the second five-year contract in Australian rugby history. Former Waratahs winger Lote Tuqiri signed on for five years in 2007 but had his contract torn up two years later after a code of conduct breach in Canberra.
Hooper, an 82-test veteran at the age of just 26, could command significant sums of money in Europe and Japan, but his reported deal with Rugby Australia (RA) equates to AU$1.2m (NZ1.34m) in contract earnings per year.
The latest collective agreement signed by New Zealand Rugby and the Players’ Association in 2016 revealed that All Blacks captain Kieran Read would be their richest player, earning more than NZ$1m through to the 2019 World Cup.
Star lock Brodie Retallick and Toulon-bound winger Julian Savea were thought to be earning in excess of NZ$800,000 annually.
Hooper’s value to the game on and off the field in Australia has always made his retention one of RA’s top priorities. The openside flanker has never been linked to an overseas move.
He would become one of Australian rugby’s top earners but not the richest annually.
David Pocock is understood to be earning AU$4m (NZ$4.46m) on a three-year deal and Israel Folau in 2015 signed a flexible three-year contract worth almost AU$2m ($2.23m) a year.
Hooper is currently making his way back from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the back end of the Super Rugby season.
It is understood he is on track to make his return in the opening Rugby Championship test against the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium next Saturday.
– Sydney Morning Herald and Stuff