Japan fullback Ayumu Goromaru is said to have overtaken former All Black Dan Carter as the highest paid rugby player in the world.
Goromaru, who starred during Japan’s thrilling World Cup campaign, will play Super Rugby for the Reds this year before moving to French club Toulon, according to French TV station Canal Plus.
The 29-year-old shot to fame at the World Cup and became a Japanese cult hero for spearheading the national team’s incredible run at the tournament, which included a shock win over South Africa.
A French newspaper last week named him as the world’s paid player, saying he is earning 200,000 euros ($NZ340,000) per month, mostly from sponsorships and endorsements.
First-five Carter – who helped the All Blacks win back-to-back World Cups in November – signed a three-year deal with Paris club Racing Metro said to be worth about $NZ3m a season.
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Goromaru, 29, will join former All Blacks Ma’a Nonu and Tom Taylor at Toulon, which is owned by the eccentric billionaire Mourad Boudjellal.
Linking up with Toulon and Boudjellal, who is unafraid to splash the cash in his efforts to draw top-class players to the Top 14 club, would further cement Goromaru’s position on rugby’s rich list.
It comes after the Reds confirmed reigning club best and fairest Liam Gill is also off to France next year. Toulon is understood to be Gill’s destination, but the fringe Wallabies flanker has told teammates he wants to return to Ballymore one day before the end of his career.
Former Queensland players Quade Cooper, James O’Connor and Drew Mitchell, as well as Wallabies centre Matt Giteau, are also contracted to Toulon.