Waratahs’ Joseph Suaalii commits to $1 million contract, Wallabies continue pursuit of compensation from France

Rugby Australia attempts to ease the disquiet around the game and the loss of sponsor Harvey Norman. The governing body is also trying to recoup more than $1 million from the French Rugby Federation from playing Les Bleus on the eve of the World Cup. Former RA chairman Hamish McLennan was given a verbal agreement from ex-French rugby president Bernard Laporte in 2021 that the Wallabies would earn close to $2m by playing their final Test ahead of the Wallabies against Les Bleus at the Stade de France. The deal was conjured up after France toured Australia for a three-match tour against the Wallabies in July, 2021. But, the deal was never put in writing. Laporte was forced to stand down as president of the FFR earlier this year after being convicted of corruption and illegally acquiring assets. His successor Florian Grill, who was appointed in July, told Midi Olympique days before the match that the unions only had an “oral agreement” over the match fee. It left the match on tenterhook. The heavy loss left Eddie Jones’ side 0-5 heading into their World Cup opener. Gordon’s inaccuracy from the tee also led to a late backline reshuffle, with Andrew Kellaway dropped to make way for Ben Donaldson, who would also take over the kicking responsibilities. But the call ultimately backfired against Fiji when Gordon failed to clean up a box kick in their crunch 24-17 loss to Fiji. RA chief executive Phil Waugh told The Sydney Morning Herald in a statement the governing body was still trying to recoup the fee. Before being ousted as chairman, McLennan admitted to Stan that the budget had gone well over what was scheduled. Following last year’s $8.2m surplus, it’s expected RA will announce another deficit at next year’s annual general meeting. McLennan says Wallabies-bound Roosters back Joseph Suaalii won’t just star on the field, he will help generate $50m before he plays a match. There were fears that Suaalii’s deal could fall over by the latest unflattering chapter in RA’s history over the past week, but the rising star is likely to honour his jawdropping $5m deal to switch codes from October 2024. McLennan, who was the great driver behind Suaalii’s high-profile code switch, said the criticism of his deal was “crazy”. With RA on the hunt for a new director of high-performance and head coach, Dan McKellar delivered a timely reminder in England. On the back of three second-half tries, the Tigers won 38-20.