Rugby Australian boss Phil Waugh says the days of raiding NRL’s best talent are over

Rugby Australia chief executive officer Phil Waugh has ruled out splashing any further cash at NRL stars, saying the 15-a-side code can’t continue to spend “more than we can afford”.

The fallout from RA’s decision to sign Sydney Roosters star Joseph Sua’ali’i on a three-year contract reportedly worth $4.8m from 2025 continues almost eight months after the deal was announced.

Waugh, who wasn’t RA’s boss at the time, said rugby needed to be “fiscally responsible” moving forward.

Rugby Australia chief executive officer Phil Waugh has ruled out further raids on NRL stars. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“The game historically has spent more than we can afford,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s not just all about money. You don’t want to be attracting people just because of the money and then you don’t have the environment sorted out.

“We can’t ignore the fact that we’ve got athletes, not just rugby league targeting them, but you’ll have overseas clubs target them as well from a rugby perspective.

“We certainly have a job to do in terms of actually getting our game in order to attract the best possible athletes.

“We need to ensure that we’re creating an environment (where) people want to be … and we’re filling stadiums and (have) a real buzz around the game.

“We’re certainly not there right now.”

Waugh said rugby had to push the “international component of our game” when trying to attract and maintain the best talent.

“But what we need to do is actually provide security to our players (so) that they trust the administration and the direction we’re taking the game,” he said.

“I don’t care if (young) people are playing league and AFL and other sports. Just as long as they’re experiencing rugby and then we’ve actually got a really clear pathway for those 15, 16, 17-year-olds to become Wallabies or Super Rugby players sooner than what they have historically.”

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