Alaalatoa plans to "fight it out" in Australian rugby

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa says he has no plans to leave Australian rugby despite ongoing uncertainty in the sport.

There have been concerns in recent weeks that a host of players are looking offshore with Rugby Australia yet to secure a broadcast deal for 2021 and beyond.

Queensland Reds trio Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas sought early releases from their deals last month and a number of off-contract players are reportedly looking offshore.

Currently, Australia's Super Rugby franchises are unable to re-sign or sign players, leaving many players' futures uncertain beyond the end of this season.

Japan has loomed as the most attractive destination, with Top League salaries unaffected by the pandemic but France, England and even the USA are also seen as potential options offshore. 

Rugby Australia submitted its audited 2019 financials to ASIC last weekend and interim CEO Rob Clarke is working on inking a broadcast deal for the rest of 2020 and then into 2021 and beyond.

Australia's players are on an average 60 per cent pay cut across the board until September 30, though that amount will be renegotiated when a domestic competition is approved for a July kick-off.

A new collective bargaining agreement is also set to be negotiated later in the year.

Former Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said earlier this year that all current player contracts would be honoured but there is reportedly concern within playing ranks about whether reduced salaries will be expected longer-term.

Alaalatoa was one of a number of Aussies who inked long-term deals to stay in Australian rugby until 2023 back in 2018 and while some of Australia's top players have been given the option for an overseas sabbatical, he's not in that group.

While Alaalatoa admitted all players were unsure what 2021 and beyond might look like, he was still committed to seeing out his deal.

"I've just totally focused everything on this year, just making sure I do everything i can for this franchise, because I'm really unsure of what next year holds but that's for a lot of players," he said.

"For me, I've inked my deal until 2023 I think it is so my plans are to stay here and fight it out and to help Australian rugby get back to where it was both here at the Brumbies and at the Wallaby level."

Alaalatoa said the ushering in of a new Wallabies era and the culture at the Brumbies were reasons to be positive despite the negativity that has shrouded Australian rugby in recent months.

"I think that's definitely the feeling I'm picking up here but everyone's human at the end of the day, you've just got to take everything into consideration," he said.

"To come in this week, you can really feel the connection especially throughout this tough time that's when our culture's going to be tested and I think coming in this week you can really feel the Brumbies family connection and everyone is genuinely here just to improve as an individual and as a team and to commit themselves to the Brumbies jersey for this year and for the following years. I think that's definitely something I saw coming back this week."

The Brumbies returned to full squad training this week for the first time since clubs were shut down amid the pandemic and Alaalatoa said that was the first step to recouping the momentum they built in a 5-1 start to the season.

"Our momentum starts from this week, this week we're back to full squad training and we haven't been together since the last game the Waratahs (On March 15) so you can't really continue something you haven't done for the last 2-3 months," he said.

"I think our momentum and the way that we drive things at training is starting this week and then we'll continue to build that and find ways to get better throughout the weeks heading into the first game."