Wallabies would welcome Samu inclusion

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It is still unclear whether new Brumbies signing Pete Samu will be able to run out in June for the Wallabies, but Test hooker Jordan Uelese says the team would welcome him with open arms.

The Brumbies announced Samu’s deal on Tuesday morning, for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, a deal that would make the Melbourne-born backrower eligible to play for Australia immediately.

Though Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has expressed an interest in Samu, and will be announcing his June Series squad on Wednesday, Rugby Australia would have to get New Zealand Rugby to make an exception for Samu to play for the Wallabies.

Samu has played club rugby for Randwick, and was a part of the Waratahs' 2013 squad, before moving to New Zealand and ultimately graduating to the Super Rugby ranks.

Uelese said Samu would be accepted into the Wallabies squad, if he receives the clearances from New Zealand and was selected.

Jordan Uelese was thrown into the fray early. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Pete Samu's obviously an Australian player, he only just moved over to New Zealand not long ago," he said.

"I think it'd be great for him to come.

"Obviously he's gone elsewhere for an opportunity to play top level footy and that's good for him.

"I know he's a Melbourne boy, some of my cousins played with him out at the Rams, so I think it's great he wants to come back and wants to represent his country.

"Regardless of where he's playing at the moment, he was born here and he played all his junior footy here and his senior footy here, so regardless of where he's playing now, I think he deserves the opportunity to represent his country.

"Whatever they choose to do so be it."

The Crusaders backrower is eligible to play for New Zealand, under his current Super Rugby contract, and NZR would have to release him to the Wallabies for him to play this year.

It’s a move they agreed to, albeit very reluctantly, for Hurricanes captain Brad Shields, who will play for England in June after signing with Wasps for the 2018-19 season.

NZR also released former Blues flyhalf Piers Francis to play for England in last year's June Series, with Francis having left England at 18 to move to New Zealand.

That decision came after World Rugby intervention, and dragged on for weeks, and it’s unclear whether New Zealand would be willing to make another exception for their fierce rivals.

Pete samu in action for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty ImagesBrumbies coach Dan McKellar said they were pleased to have Samu on board.

“We are delighted that Peter Samu has agreed to join the Brumbies for the 2019 Super Rugby season,” Plus500 Brumbies Head Coach Dan McKellar commented.

“Peter is a powerful backrower with good speed and a skill-set that suits how we want to play at the Brumbies. He comes from a highly successful program and has enjoyed success at both Mitre 10 Cup and Super Rugby level.

“Having been involved in trophy-winning sides in both those competitions, he brings a winning mind-set to the group and we look forward to his arrival.”

Samu said he was looking forward to being a part of the Canberra franchise.

“I am thrilled by the challenge of joining the Brumbies and am looking forward to taking to the field for the club,” he said.

“The Brumbies are well-renowned throughout Super Rugby for being a successful club and for having a fantastic playing culture. I am excited to get to Canberra, settle in and get out onto the field.

“I’d like to thank the Crusaders for giving me a chance at this level and wish them all the best for the future.”

New Zealand Rugby did not respond to RUGBY.com.au's request for comment on Tuesday.