Rugby: 2018 world's top 10 highest-paid players

While New Zealand Rugby is busy trying to lock away its prized assets after the 2019 World Cup, the richest clubs in the world are splashing the cash to entice rugby's elite away.

The tournament in Japan will be an opportunity for the game's best players to put their names in the shopping window, as European and Japanese powerhouses look to attract some foreign flair into their sides.

It begs the question, who currently rules among the world's top 10 highest-paid rugby players?


10. Michael Hooper NZ$1.102 million (€572,000)

Michael Hooper
Michael Hooper Photo credit: Getty

The Australian captain recently signed a huge deal with Rugby Australia, committing the next five-years to the Wallabies jersey for a guaranteed AU$6million.

9. Nicolas Sanchez NZ$1.119 million (€581,000)

The extremely talented Pumas five-eighth was lured away from the Jaguares, signing a multi-year deal with the rich Stade Francais club.

 Rugby: 2018 world's top 10 highest-paid players

8. Ma'a Nonu NZ$1.156 million (€600,000)

Ma'a Nonu
Ma'a Nonu Photo credit: Getty

The former All Black may be club-less, but he is still reaping the financial benefits of his mega-deal with Toulon. Could be Super Rugby bound next year.

7. Dan Biggar NZ$1.156 million (€600,000)

Biggar is the brains behind an impressive Welsh backline. Left his home country to take up a huge deal with the Northampton Saints.

6. Steven Luatua NZ$1.252 million (€650,000)

Steven Luatua.
Steven Luatua. Photo credit: Getty

Didn't make any friends within the All Blacks hierarchy when he decided to cash in on his extreme rugby talent, signing for Bristol.

Luatua was pinpointed as Kieran Read's natural replacement and may still be, if he decides to head home in 2020.

5. Aaron Cruden NZ$1.310 million (€680,000)

Didn't seem interested in hanging around in another All Blacks number 10 sweepstake, so headed offshore to joining the foreign legion in France. By all accounts Cruden has been outstanding for Montpellier, justifying the enormous price tag for the back-up international playmaker.

4. Charles Piutau NZ$1.926 million (€1m)

Charles Piutau.
Charles Piutau. Photo credit: Getty

The former Auckland standout may just be the biggest loss to New Zealand rugby in recent memory. Piutau left home before reaching the peak of his rugby powers, becoming the first million-pound rugby player in Britain.

Left Ulster for Bristol at the end of last year and continues to shine in Europe.

3. Matt Giteau NZ$2.119 million (€1.1m)

The forgotten Wallaby, Giteau last played for his country in the 2015 World Cup final. Another of the ex-southern crew at Toulon, Giteau penned a huge contract with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath.

2. Dan Cater NZ$2.119 million (€1.1m)

Dan Carter.
Dan Carter. Photo credit: Getty

Poor 'DC' had to take a hefty pay-cut, after ending his contract with Racing 92. The All Black great has signed a two-year deal with Japanese club Kobe Steelers.

1. Israel Folau NZ$2.196 million (€1.4m)

Israel Folau
Israel Folau Photo credit: Getty

The golden nugget of Australian rugby, although with just four months left on his contract, he could be set to increase his weekly wage.

Folau has had a few problems off the field, but on it, he is simply superb and arguably worth every penny/dollar/pound/euro/yen.

*all figures are estimates retrieved from