Rugby Australia wants Angus Crichton. But the governing body won’t break the bank to secure the services of the former Schoolboys star turned household NRL name despite being linked to a mega $1.6 million deal.
After months of being in RA’s sights, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the governing body had offered the 27-year-old a two-year deal worth an estimated $1.6 million to join the Western Force.
However, in news that will relieve the concern across the national landscape after a disastrous fortnight in Australian rugby history following the Wallabies’ World Cup flop, The Roar understands that the figure is outrageously too high, according to sources, and is, in fact, closer to $500,000 per season.
While Crichton would have commanded top rate dollar in years gone by, the former Scots College prodigy struggled in 2023.
It came after health problems following last year’s World Cup triumph with the Kangaroos.
It’s why RA won’t throw the kitchen sink at the State of Origin back-rower.
Rugby figures believe Crichton could prove to be a valuable player in the game, but The Roar has been told there remains apprehension about what player will turn up.
The failed experiment of Tepai Moeroa, who was lured across from the Parramatta Eels on a sum worth an estimated $400,000 after also being a schoolboy prodigy, remains fresh in the memory bank.
Moeroa was troubled by injuries and the crash-ball centre option failed to live up to the hype of his move and left after two years.
While the Roosters have had salary cap issues all year, there’s a feeling the NRL powerhouse would not want to offload a player unless they had reason to.
Given their salary cap issues, it’s understood the Roosters wouldn’t stand in the way of the back-rower being released one year early from his deal. It would also allow them to throw money to secure rising star Siua Wong, another Scots graduate who was looked at by RA officials earlier this year.
Crichton is admired for his rugby deeds, but there is an element of apprehension across the entire rugby landscape as to how he will continue to recover from his health scare.
Sources have told The Roar that Wallabies coach Eddie Jones would support a move to secure Crichton, but he would be given no assurances of playing for the national side.
Crichton’s father, Charles, is a former Australian Schoolboys rugby representative who played alongside Tim Horan, Jason Little and Peter Jorgensen and would likely support a cross-code switch.
Crichton isn’t the only big name NRL player to be linked to a cross-code switch in recent months.
Earlier this year Brisbane Broncos star Payne Haas was linked to a huge deal to join rugby union.
Except, it wasn’t RA who was chasing Haas rather the NRL star.
With Crichton off contract at the end of 2024, it gives the hard-hitting back-rower avenue to explore his options.
Meanwhile, with the Wallabies struggling in France, NRL chairman Peter V’landys took the opportunity to shoot down former State of Origin captain Laurie Daley’s proposal that rugby league should buy rugby union so that the two games can co-exist to fend off the threat of AFL.
“Well, the first rule in business is that you always buy an asset, not a liability,” V’landys told the Footy Talk podcast.
“So I guess that idea would be off the table straight away. Tell Laurie, you don’t buy liabilities, you buy assets.”