The Queensland Reds have denied reports star Japanese recruit Ayumu Goromaru has already committed to leaving the Super Rugby franchise at the end of the season to join French glamour club Toulon.
A spokesman for the Queensland Rugby Union said overnight claims from French TV station Canal Plus that Goromaru has agreed to a one-year contract with the reigning European champions were “not true”.
Fullback Goromaru, who became a Japanese cult hero for his efforts at last year’s World Cup, is understood to have attracted strong interest from overseas clubs but is yet to decide where his future lies beyond his current one-season deal with Queensland.
Both the Reds and Goromaru intend to discuss the possibility of extending his time at Ballymore once the 29-year-old has fully settled in Brisbane and begun playing regularly.
A French newspaper last week named him as the world’s highest-paid rugby player, claiming he is earning a staggering 200,000 euros ($A315,000) per month.
Most of that would be from sponsorships and endorsements in Japan, as well as his wage from Top League club Yamaha Jubilo.
But since the Japanese and European seasons overlap, Goromaru would have to sacrifice playing at home – where his commercial value is strongest – in order to take up any offer from Toulon.
Goromaru has only played 11 minutes in Reds colours, coming off the bench for a brief cameo in the team’s final pre-season trial match on Friday.
Once fit, he is a certain starter, meaning incumbent No.15 Karmichael Hunt will have to find another position, most likely in the centres.
The Reds are already losing one key player to Toulon next year – reigning club best and fairest Liam Gill, who last week announced he will depart for France at the end of the season, but didn’t name which club.
Former Queensland players Quade Cooper and James O’Connor, as well as Wallabies centre Matt Giteau, are also contracted to Toulon.