Test fullback Tom Banks will meet with Wallabies staff in Sydney this week to nut out his future in the wake of a monster $1.4 million per season offer to play in Japan.
Banks will take advantage of the Brumbies bye week in Super Rugby to sit down with Wallabies management, but it is unlikely there will be a late change of mind on his future.
The reality of the international rugby economy is that on the one hand, Rugby Australia are asking him to take a pay cut to stay in Canberra while, on the other, a Japanese League One club has the cash to make a 19-Test Wallaby one of the richest players in the world.
Only Rory Arnold, Australia’s sought-after second-rower, will trump Banks in the earning department when his Japanese deal is announced soon.
RA didn’t insult France-based Arnold with a counter-offer when he was on the market before Christmas. With Banks it is different. The Brumbies are desperate to retain their 27-year-old fullback and are still hoping to change his mind.
To that end, RA have offered Banks a three-year deal with a sabbatical year in which he can bump up his salary with a season in Japan. Unfortunately, they are working within the constraints of a contracting budget that has shrunk by 25 per cent in three years and are offering a downgraded contract.
As many observers pointed out on Monday, Banks would be mad to stay. “Take the gold and run,” was one of the more succinct takes.
Is this a crisis for Australian rugby? Not yet, but larger forces at play could tip it into one.
There is no money in the game here and there won’t be until the British and Irish Lions tour in 2025, unless RA do a deal with a private equity partner, selling off a portion of the organisation’s commercial rights for a cash injection.
Things could start to ease up if, as expected, Australia are awarded the hosti
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