Wallabies coach Michael Cheika makes no secret of the fact he wanted lock Kane Douglas back in the international fold when he departed for Ireland’s Leinster.
His former Waratahs mentor eventually stopped ringing, believing Douglas would be staying in Ireland.
“I thought he was going to take an AVO out on me because I kept ringing him up about coming back the minute he left,” Cheika joked.
“Then we got to a period where I figured he had finally rejected me fully so I cried for a while and didn’t ring him back.”
Douglas ultimately decided to return home to be closer to his father and brother, with he and his partner expecting a baby and Leinster, the Wallabies and the Queensland Reds co-operating to help him come home.
“I got in contact with them towards the end when I wanted to come home,” he said.
The former Waratah, and future Queensland Red, has since cemented himself as a starting Wallabies lock at a Rugby World Cup in which he never thought he would feature.
“I sort of ruled myself out (of World Cup contention) by moving to Ireland,” he said.
Douglas said it wasn’t easy to turn his back on the Wallabies to head overseas originally but Cheika as his provincial coach had been supportive.
“He was in the dark until I was going and then when I was going he was very supportive,” he said.
“He was trying to tell me where to live when I got there.
“It was a big decision to leave (Australia) and it was a big decision to come back.
“I haven’t regretted any decision I’ve made, though.”
Cheika said the effort made to help Douglas return home, both by Leinster and Australia, had been vindicated with Douglas’ rich vein of form through the tournament.
Douglas has proven himself a defensive beast, topping the Wallabies’ tackle count against Wales (15) and Scotland (10).
The mongrel in him has been pivotal for the side in those two matches, where defence was a decisive factor.
“With Kane being pretty straight up and the professional approach from Mick Dawson and the team over there, we were able to get this outcome and I think it’s been validated by Kane playing very well,” Cheika said.
“He’s earned his spot back in the team in what is obviously a competitive area for us now.
“I’m sure he’ll keep that form going to keep that spot in the team.”