Australian Rugby
Eels tempt Cooper with massive deal
Scrum.com
August 16, 2010
Australia's Quade Cooper chats to some young fans, Wallabies training session, Coogee Oval, Sydney, Australia, July 15, 2010
Quade Cooper would disappoint Australia's rugby fans if he left the Wallabies ahead of the World Cup © Getty Images
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Quade Cooper's future in Australian rugby has again been called into question with reports the Parramatta Eels are prepared to make the star back the NRL's highest-paid player by offering more than double the wages the ARU has put forward.

Cooper last week opened the door on a potential move to rugby league, saying he wouldn't rule out a code switch and talking up the achievement of being a dual international, but most observers considered his public quotes to be an attempt to up his value to the ARU as they look to negotiate a contract extension beyond Cooper's current deal, which ends this year.

ARU chief executive John O'Neill said he was confident Cooper would stick with the Wallabies through to the World Cup next year but the latest reports in Australian media indicate the 22-year-old could yet make a shock exit from rugby given the attraction of the Eels' offer of as much as A$850,000 to join them for the 2011 season.

The Eels are desperate to sign a quality half and as they have a number of senior players retiring or leaving the club, they have room to move under their salary cap. Eels chairman Roy Spagnolo, CEO Paul Obsorne and superstar fullback Jared Hayne, who Cooper became friends with through Twitter, recently had dinner with Cooper in Brisbane to sell their cause to the Queensland Reds star.

Spagnolo said: "We've got a figure in our head and we won't be going above that. We're not going to destroy the whole team to try and get Quade Cooper. Our offer will be in line with the guidelines of the salary cap but we have got some money to spend. It would be fantastic for our club, the sponsors and the code if we could get Quade."

Cooper is reportedly on around A$300,000 per season, with the ARU offering a A$100,000 increase in their initial negotiations. Given Cooper has transformed from a fringe squad member into a key cog in Robbie Deans' team in the past two seasons, the ARU are now faced with the prospect of offering a significant pay rise to their rising star to match the Eels' ambitious offer.

Meanwhile, more rugby league personalities have claimed Cooper would make a successful transition to their code. The NRL's salary cap usually sees top talent head in the other direction so the rugby league community is relishing the prospect, albeit still unlikely, of seeing one of the Wallabies' crown jewels make the switch.

Senior Eels player Nathan Cayless told Bigspond Sports: ''I've seen him play, and he's an absolutely outstanding talent. He's had some great games for the Wallabies, in a couple of those matches against South Africa, and he played well for the Reds this year as well ... we'll just have to see what happens with that.''

Dual internation Lote Tuqiri, who made the switch from league to union and back again, told the Sydney Morning Herald: "I think he would cross codes easily. He is a natural talent and is someone who plays off the cuff so I think he would be well suited to league."

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