Wallabies and NSW Waratahs fly-half Bernard Foley has signed a new “flexible” contract with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) which will allow him to take up a lucrative deal in Japan.
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The deal means the 25-year-old is eligible to play for the Wallabies until 2018, but is entitled to play two seasons in Japan’s Top League.
The option of playing in Japan will be made available to Foley following the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the end of the Rugby Championship the following year.
Flexible contracts are gradually being introduced by the ARU in response the growing number of star Australian players choosing to move overseas, thus making themselves ineligible for Wallabies selection.
Foley said he was thrilled to have extended his deal with both the Wallabies and Waratahs.
“I have an incredibly strong desire to continue representing Australia and the Waratahs, and this deal allows me to do that for at least another three years,” Foley said in an ARU statement.
“I’d like to thank Australian Rugby and the Waratahs for understanding my desire to experience a new culture and Rugby environment in Japan, while continuing to provide me an opportunity for represent my state and country.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said the flexible deals would be treated on a case-by-case basis.
“Flexible contracting is taken into consideration for exceptional circumstances, and I am confident that he will put his own well-being at the front of his priorities and thinking.” Cheika said.
“Bernard is a playmaker who is still yet to reach his full potential and we need our best players eligible for Australia – now and in the future.
“Bernard is one of many playmakers in Australian Rugby that will be vying for a Wallabies jumper over the next period. This is the environment we will be creating – where players can challenge one another and ultimately make the Wallabies program stronger.”
Foley has made 18 Test appearances since making his international debut against Argentina in 2013.
The 89kg fly-half has also won 55 Super Rugby caps, scoring 388 points.