Hooper laments Australian player drain as Polota-Nau signs for Leicester

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has thrown his support behind the idea of increasing Super Rugby salary caps to keep players like Tatafu Polota-Nau in Australian rugby after the hooker signed a lucrative deal with UK Premiership side Leicester Tigers.

Hooper has also stressed the door will always be open for Polota-Nau at the Wallabies given he has chalked up more than the 60 Tests required to come back during international windows.

Polota-Nau's time in Super Rugby is over for now, with the Western Force hooker deciding to take his services offshore in the wake of Rugby Australia's decision to cut his adopted club.

Last week the 32-year-old said he had not received any offers from Australian Super Rugby clubs but it is understood Polota-Nau had actually been approached by all four franchises.

Why Polota-Nau would suggest otherwise is unclear but his signing does indicate the 2??-year offer on the table at Leicester was too good to refuse.

European clubs poaching Australian players is nothing new and Hooper, who was Polota-Nau's captain at the NSW Waratahs when they won the 2014 Super Rugby title, is open to solutions to prevent a tidal wave of more players going overseas.

"To keep players in Australia is would be fantastic, there's just so many finer details that it takes to come down to that," Hooper told Fairfax Media. "You've got to be able to generate the money to keep the players. You can't just say we're going to up blokes' salaries. It's never as straightforward as that because if we could pay everyone what they wanted, then everyone would be in Australia.

"It's the unfortunate fact we can't and players want different experiences. You'd be stoked if that was Australia every time."

Even though Polota-Nau will spend time in the northern hemisphere playing his rugby, it is understood Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will still pick him for Tests in 2018 and at the next World Cup in Japan.

Polota-Nau would be available for all three June Tests, the Rugby Championship, but not the final Bledisloe Cup match scheduled in late October.

There is also a strong chance Australia's spring tour matches next year will be played within the international window, meaning Leicester would have to release him.

"As someone who has given a lot to Australian rugby ??? it's something he certainly wouldn't have done lightly and it's a big decision for him," Hooper said. "I support him on that decision. I don't know what that future looks like for him in regards to being in the green and gold but I'm sure the finer details will come out sooner.

"I'd love to have him around, especially with Stephen [Moore] finishing up on this tour as well. With Taf playing as well as he is, I find it hard to believe that he's not going to be around and the boss isn't going to want to select him.

"It's why the rule was brought in for players like that."

Polota-Nau, who has played 79 Tests for his country, is one of the most respected figures within the Wallabies setup but it is his performances on the field this year that have shown how valuable he is.

With Moore retiring from Test rugby at the end of the month, Polota-Nau and young hooker Jordan Uelese look set to be the men to lead Australia's scrum at rugby's next centrepiece event

"I'm really looking forward to experiencing what northern hemisphere rugby is about," Polota-Nau said in a statement. "To be privileged to do it with one of the most prestigious clubs of the English Premiership, Leicester Tigers, I believe that not only can I further my game individually, but they have the capacity to add plenty more trophies to their illustrious cabinet and history.

"I do hope that I can contribute to what I think is a very good start to their season and campaign. It will be interesting playing against some of the squad players in the November internationals but I'm very keen to switch thinking caps and get a taste of the challenges ahead."

This story Hooper laments Australian player drain as Polota-Nau signs for Leicester first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.