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Where Does Aaron Cruden Sit On The List Of Rugby’s Highest Earners?

Super Rugby Rd 3 - Chiefs v Highlanders

Very few observers were shocked to learn that Aaron Cruden had taken the decision to leave New Zealand and join Montpellier on a three-year deal.

After falling behind Beauden Barrett in the All Blacks’ pecking order, Cruden’s departure had been expected. Indeed, last December French rugby site, Rugby 365, had even reported that Montpellier had secured the services of the 47 times capped New Zealand international.

Nevertheless, Cruden took the unusual step of publishing a video on the Chief’s You Tube channel, outlining his motivation for joining the Top club.

Although Cruden spoke of his excitement about moving to France and experiences it will bring, writing in Kiwi news site Stuff, Duncan Johnson described the fly-half’s move as a “defection”.

A strong criticism that will resonate with readers of John le Carré spy novels or historians of the Cold War. However, Cruden is not Guy Burgess or a member of the infamous Cambridge spy ring. He has not traded state secrets or embarrassed New Zealand’s secret service.

What Cruden has done is accept a three-year contract worth €800,000 per year. A salary that will make the 28-year old one of the highest paid players in the world. Although the Chiefs’ playmaker will miss out on the opportunity to feature at the 2019 World Cup, he started at fly-half when New Zealand won the tournament in 2011.

While the opportunity of claiming another winners medal may have appealed to Cruden, he was presented the with the chance to earn a life changing salary in France. Indeed, given his age, it is doubtful a club like Montpellier would have made a similar offer in 2019.

Indeed, based on a list of rugby’s highest paid players published by the Irish Independent, Cruden will surpass the earnings of Leigh Halfpenny, Ma’a Nonu and Johnny Sexton when he does join Montpellier next season.

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[tie_slide]10. Manu Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers) – €540,000 per annum

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16: Manu Tuilagi of Leicester Tigers in action during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between Leicester Tigers and Benetton Treviso at Welford Road on January 16, 2016 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

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[tie_slide]9. Bryan Habana (Toulon) – €570,000 per annum

Bryan Habana

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[tie_slide]8. Charles Piutau (Ulster) – €600,000 per annum

Ulster Rugby v Exeter Chiefs - European Rugby Champions Cup

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[tie_slide]7. Johnny Sexton (Leinster and Ireland) – €600,000 per annum

DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 14: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland celebrates victory after the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and France at Aviva Stadium on February 14, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. Ireland won the match 18-11. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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[tie_slide]6. Ma’a Nonu (Toulon) – €600,000 per annum

TOULON, FRANCE - OCTOBER 15: Ma'a Nonu of Toulon looks on in the warm up during the European Rugby Champions Cup match between RC Toulon and Saracens at Stade Felix Mayol on October 15, 2016 in Toulon, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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[tie_slide]5. Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon) €600,000 per annum

Leigh Halfpenny

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[tie_slide]4. Aaron Cruden (Montpellier) €800,000 per annum

Aaron Cruden

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[tie_slide] 3. Matt Giteau (Toulon and Australia) €1.08m per annum

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - APRIL 19: Matt Giteau of Toulon runs with the ball during the European Rugby Champions Cup semi final match between RC Toulon and Leinster at Stade Velodrome on April 19, 2015 in Marseille, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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[tie_slide]2. Dan Carter (Racing 92) – €1.67m per annum

Leicester Tigers v Racing 92 - European Rugby Champions Cup

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[tie_slide]1. Ayumu Goromaru (Toulon) – €1.67m+ per annum

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Ayumu Goromaru of Japan lines up a penalty during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between South Africa and Japan at the Brighton Community Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena

Check out the latest episode of The Oval Office is up, featuring Johnny O’Connor and Charlie Sharples.

https://soundcloud.com/punditarenarugby/we-speak-to-johnny-oconnor-charlie-sharples-and-discuss-connacht-rugbys-season

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.