Wallabies coach Michael Cheika fears more Australia players will be lost to cashed-up European club sides with the ARU facing a battle to keep some of the country’s best young talent.
Giant second-rower Rory Arnold and centre Tevita Kuridrani are the latest names to be linked with a moves to France with the Brumbies duo reportedly being chased by Toulon and Bordeaux Begles.
Cheika’s side will face England at Twickenham on Saturday (Sunday 0130 AEDT) without in-form halfback Will Genia, who’s returned to Paris club Stade Francais.
The England game falls outside of the official international Test window and Stade knocked back a request from their former coach Cheika for Genia’s services.
Cheika conceded the ARU cannot match the money on offer in Europe and said the key to keeping the best talent is convincing players they’re better served playing Super Rugby regularly.
“Everyone off (contract) in 2017 is linked with a move,” Cheika said.
“For us to keep our players, we’ve got to be doing an unbelievable job on the ground.
“They can offer them more in sterling, albeit Brexit’s almost a little thing that’s helped the Australian Rugby Union in a way.
“Albeit with a small decline in Sterling and Euro, they’re getting offered more than we’re able to offer them in dollars.
“We’ve got to make sure that playing, not just for Australia but for your Super Rugby team, is something that’s going to make you a better player, a better person.
“Then when the opportunity to play for Australia comes around it has to be something that players really want.”
In addition to Genia there are at least 20 Wallabies plying their trade in Europe including Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Mowen, Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau.
It’s not a problem exclusive to the Wallabies with New Zealand and South Africa also battling to stop their best players having their heads turned by the big money on offer in the northern hemisphere.
“That’s the real world issue for us,” Cheika said.
“South Africa have been ripped apart by departures and it’s happening to New Zealand too
“We’ve gone on a clear plan to try and grow the number of players that are competing for spots in the Australian team because we have blooded so many new players and we’ve done it on purpose.
“When you play 15 Tests against the top eight nations in one year, there’s no easy games.
“We’ve seen … over here how true that is. You’ve got to try four or five debutants in a game, five first-time starters in a game.
“We’ll take a bit of pain initially and we’ll keep doing it until we build the depth we need to stay competitive no matter how many players come overseas.”