Friday 21 September 2018

Leinster could lose Kane Douglas for good

Kane Douglas
Kane Douglas

So Kane Douglas has started the wheels rolling on his exit from Leinster for the World Cup.

It could be a lot more serious than that. The remaining two years of his contract could be up for discussion too.

Sure, Australia coach Michael Cheika is the man behind the activation of World Rugby Regulation 9 which requests the release of an international player for duty with The Rugby Championship just around the corner and the William Webb Ellis trophy beyond it.

What has changed between last summer when Douglas signed away his claim to the World Cup in order to take up a three-year residency in Ireland and now?

It is simple really. One major thing has happened outside of the im portance of family matters.

The man who brought Douglas to Leinster is no longer here.

The decision to short-circuit Matt O'Connor's contract from three-to-two years could really come back home to haunt the province.

The current Wallabies coach Cheika was a strong advocate of Douglas at The Waratahs and did all in his power to keep the international lock at home.

When the request came from the ARU for the release of Douglas, it was accepted with good grace by Leinster.

"We have been in discussions with the Australian Rugby Union and with Kane for a few weeks now and we have made our position very clear," said Leinster Manager Guy Easterby.

"Kane is contracted to Leinster Rugby for another two seasons and we look forward to welcoming him back when his commitments with the ARU come to an end."

This is far from guaranteed.

The murmurs out of Australia are that the Queensland Reds are in hot pursuit of Douglas (right), not long after O'Connor has been linked to replace Richard Graham with the role of head coach in Brisbane.

Imagine Douglas and O'Connor reuniting back home.

The abrupt end to O'Connor's reign was made by the Professional Games Board in order to fix what they fairly saw as Leinster's under-performance in the PRO12 League.

The main issue is that they dove too late into the market place to retrieve a world-class coach option and have, so far, been left with the high potential, rather than proven pedigree, of Leo Cullen and Girvan Dempsey.

These men are two undoubtedly quality operators with 'future head coach' written all over them. But is this too much, too soon?

It would be interesting to hear Ben Te'o's take on his position, now that the man who guided him here and understood the detailed transformation needed from Rugby League to Union is gone.


If ever there was a player who was open to great improvement as a real cutting edge in Leinster's early season, it is the hard-hitting, hard-running Te'o.

The problem is the New Zealander brought his game-breaking skills to Leinster on a promise from a coach who had travelled the same road in changing from League to Union.

Last season, Te'o was up front about the difficulties of relearning the game he once played within the Irish system.

"I've found that the way things are set up here it's quite different," he said back then.

"I came into the team and then you've guys disappearing for Six Nations, they went very well.

"Then you've got guys coming back with bumps and bruises, Europe, Pro12, you're resting guys - 'he can't play, because he's played too much' or 'he's injured'.

"It's always the team chopping and changing."

The sacking of O'Connor will not have sat well with Douglas or Te'o.


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