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Toulon's owner may sue ARU for 'millions' over Quade Cooper deal

Mourad Boudjellal is not a happy man.

TOULON PRESIDENT MOURAD Boudjellal has issued an angered response to reports that out-half Quade Cooper will turn his back on a contract with the Top 14 club to stay in Australia.

Paul O'Connell and Quade Cooper Paul O'Connell and Cooper were set to be teammates at Toulon next season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The three-time Champions Cup winners announced the signing of Cooper on a two-year deal in April, when the playmaker was pictured wearing a Toulon jersey as he shook hands with Boudjellal.

That appeared to confirm that Cooper was definitely leaving Australia after the World Cup, but widespread reports down under in recent days say that the ARU have convinced the 27-year-old to do a u-turn and instead sign a four-year deal with the union.

It has been suggested that part of that contract involves scope for Cooper to play with Australia’s sevens side at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as well as allowing him to spend a lucrative stint in Japan.

Early estimations in Australia were that it would cost somewhere in the region of €140,000 for Cooper to break his Toulon deal, but the club may now sue for far more.

Boudjellal was invited onto Sud Radio‘s ‘Rugby & Cie’ show in France last night to give his take on the confusing matter, and he delivered a stinging claim that Toulon would need to be heavily compensated if Cooper backs out of the contract.

“Quade Cooper signed a contract with us that I left with the LNR (the governing body of the Top 14), but right now I have no news. Today, I can’t do anything, seeing as he has a contract.

“If Toulon are going to be compensated, it will be a figure in millions of euros. The damage to our image is very significant. He took a photo with us, we built our season ticket campaign around him, his jersey is on sale.

Quade_Cooper30 Cooper's deal to join Toulon was announced in April. Source: RCT

“Furthermore, we passed on (signing) other out-halves for him.”

While Boudjellal is renowned for his outspoken nature, the threat of pursuing huge compensation if Cooper fails to honour his contract with Toulon may cause concern for the ARU.

Indeed, Boudjellal intimated that he is more angered by those who may have convinced Cooper to change his mind than the player himself.

“We will also look for the accomplices in this, because the Australian federation haven’t done this the right way,” said Boudjellal. “They are in the process of turning a player who they know has signed (with Toulon).

So, there is complicity and I may sue the Australian union so our rights are respected.”

Asked if Toulon are now looking at other players in the case that Cooper does not arrive next season, Boudjellal confirmed as much. The comic book magnate did, however, admit that speaking to other out-halves is not easy at present.

“It’s complicated to tell a player ‘we will sign you if Quade Cooper doesn’t come’. They certainly won’t sign when you say that.”

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Murray Kinsella

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