Pete Samu’s availability for the Wallabies is in the hands of Rugby Australia following a reported proposition of $50,000 made by New Zealand Rugby.
The Samu saga took an intriguing twist late on Thursday when NZ Rugby said it would allow Crusaders loose forward Samu to be temporarily released from his NZR contract to play for Australia in the three-Test series in June but with conditions on it.
NZR refused to disclose the conditions, but The Daily Telegraph are reporting NZR are asking for $50,000 and that their Australian counterparts are unlikely to agree to the deal.
The Melbourne-born 26-year-old wasn’t named in the Wallabies squad unveiled on Wednesday, leaving coach Michael Cheika hopeful NZR would grant clearance.
Now it seems Cheika must await Rugby Australia’s response to the offer tabled by NZR head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum.
“We put a proposal to Rugby Australia early today that would allow Pete Samu to be available for selection in June and for the Rugby Championship,” Lendrum said in a written statement.
“Rugby Australia is currently contemplating this proposal.”
NZR insists they are entitled to block Samu’s release because his contract commits him to New Zealand, who he is also eligible to represent.
In a similar scenario last month, NZR eventually granted a release for flanker Brad Shields to represent England against South Africa next month.
Veteran Hurricanes skipper Shields was shown leniency because of his long service in New Zealand.
Adding another dimension to Samu’s situation is his fitness, having exited last week’s win over the Hurricanes near halftime following a head knock.
He was omitted from the Crusaders team named on Thursday to face the Chiefs in Hamilton this weekend and was unavailable to media at training.
Crusaders coach Scott Robertson said he would support Samu wearing green and gold.
“He’s going to be a Wallaby at some stage isn’t he? If that’s in June, good on him,” Robertson told journalists.
“He’s an Australian who wants to play for Australia. He’s good enough to be a Wallaby.”
Robertson says Samu’s alignment with Australia won’t affect his selection chances at the Crusaders, who lead the competition and chasing hard a second successive title.
“If he plays well enough he’ll play. It’s not an issue at all – I think it’s just professional sport.”
Australia have a shortage of options at blindside flanker, with Jack Dempsey injured and Ned Hanigan unavailable until the second match of the series against Ireland.