The Australian Rugby Union have attempted to distance themselves from an emerging stoush between Quade Cooper and enraged Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal.
Boudjellal has threatened to sue the ARU for “millions of euros” if the playmaker backflips on his big-money deal to join the French heavyweights.
Cooper, who posed for a photo in a Toulon jersey with Boudjellal earlier this year, was set to join Toulon after the World Cup.
But reports this week indicate the Wallabies and the Queensland five-eighth has opted to stay in the country on a four-year deal with the aim of leading the Australian Sevens team’s charge to the Rio Olympic Games.
In a dramatic tirade on French radio, Boudjellal accused the ARU of playing dirty for continuing to negotiate with Cooper after he had already committed to Toulon.
“They are speaking to a player who they know has signed,” Boudjellal told Sud Radio.
“So there is collusion there and I might sue the Australian federation to ensure our rights are respected.”
ARU general manager Rob Clarke told AAP on Thursday they had no intention of entering the argument.
“We’re not planning on responding, it really isn’t our issue, it’s Quade’s issue and his management’s issue and it’s really in his court to sort that out,” Clarke said.
“We’ve had ongoing discussions with Quade, but where that ends up is very much in his hands.”
“Toulon have made a pretty definitive statement and now it’s really up to Quade and his management to sort it out the best way they see fit.”
It’s believed Cooper would have to pay a six-figure release fee from his own pocket given the ARU’s previous reticence towards players who renege on deals.
But Boudjellal was adamant the 27-year-old had already signed a contract with them and if he did not honour the deal he’d be willing to pursue Australia’s governing body for far more.
“If Cooper doesn’t come, the compensation will be in millions of euros,” he said.
“He was our first choice. The damage to our image is significant.
“He took a photo with us, we centred our season ticket campaign around him, his jersey is on sale.
“What’s more, we passed on other fly-halves to get him.”
Cooper, who is currently in Argentina with the Wallabies, will reportedly devote all of next year to the Australian Sevens program before returning to Super Rugby in 2017.