"We would be failing in our duty if we didn't sort out a newfour-year deal before the summer tour gets under way," Damian Hopley, chiefexecutive of the Professional Rugby Players Association, told the Evening Standard.
Negotiations to establish new payments to cover match fees andimage rights with the Rugby Football Union and the leading Premiership clubs werehalted after England's Six Nations defeat by Ireland.
Head coach Clive Woodward, whose contract runs to the 2007 WorldCup, made it clear the pay row had been an unwanted distraction, althoughHopley insists it was not a major factor in the loss.
With the Six Nations out of the way, Hopley is confident afour-year deal will be struck to ensure the players go on tour knowing exactly whatplaying
"We are discussing match fees with Premier Rugby, who have apot of money to share out for international duty and image rights with theRFU," Hopley said.
" Everyone agrees it is vital we come to an agreement and Iam confident this will happen. I don't believe the issues were a major distractionbefore the Irish game and the players have dealt with much bigger problemswithout letting it affect their form."
He said a four-year deal was necessary to allow every player whocomes into the England team to know exactly what they will be entitled to. "We don't want any more grey areas," he added.
AFP - 2004.