The ugly standoff between Rugby Australia (RA) and the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) over Melbourne-born Crusaders flanker Pete Samu is over with the 26-year-old cleared today to join the Wallabies squad in Brisbane ahead of the opening match of the three Test Series against world No2 Ireland on Saturday.
Samu’s release had been held up after the NZR had reportedly demanded NZD$50,000 in compensation for the player who has signed to play for the Brumbies in Super Rugby next season.
One of Super Rugby’s most consistent players Samu has scored eight tries in 28 games for the ladder leaders since making his debut against the Blues in 2016.
He is expected to slot directly into Michael Cheika’s match day 23 and may even start against Ireland at Suncorp this Saturday night.
Samu’s defection follows on Hurricanes captain and flanker Brad Shields joining England for their upcoming series against South Africa.
"Tacky."— Fox Sports Rugby (@FOXRugbyLive) June 2, 2018
Former @qantaswallabies @stevehoiles and @GeorgeGregan have expressed their dismay at New Zealand Rugby’s demands for financial compensation to release Crusaders flanker Pete Samu for the Ireland Test series: https://t.co/A0Nqv1kpaw pic.twitter.com/KNGQEF4WmR
RA Chief Executive Raelene Castle said: “I want to thank New Zealand Rugby for their consideration in releasing Peter for international duties.
“Our discussions were robust but fair and I’m pleased we’ve reached an agreement to allow Peter the opportunity to represent his country,” Castle said.
Samu will return to New Zealand after the Ireland series before completing his club duties for the Crusaders.
At the end of his Super Rugby commitments, Samu will be released from the final year of his contract with Tasman Rugby Union and eligible for selection in the Wallabies squad for Rugby Championship and for the Canberra Vikings in the 2018 National Rugby Championship (NRC).
He will be an exciting addition for the Vikings in the NRC this season as they aim to go one better in 2018 after finishing runners-up last year.
Warren Gatland praised Wales’ next generation of young talent after they held on to secure a dramatic 22-20 victory over South Africa at Washington’s RFK Stadium.
The game in the American capital had its critics with both sides fielding inexperienced line-ups and former Wales captain Gwyn Jones declaring it a money-spinning PR exercise.
Gatland refuted that claim and his team certainly delivered on the pitch as Ryan Elias’ late try sealed success for Wales in the American capital.
A late penalty from Robert du Preez looked to have given the South Africans the edge, but the replacement fly-half then had a clearance kick charged down by Tomos Williams and Elias pounced to win the game.
Gatland said: “Who would want to be a coach? The end was dramatic and maybe our game management could have been better, but I thought we played well in the first half.
“The young guys will take a lot from this and there will be a lot of learning from them moving forwards. I thought captain Ellis Jenkins was outstanding and so was Tomos Williams.
“There are a couple of things to work on, but we are looking forward to going to Argentina now which will be a big step up for us.”
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) June 2, 2018
Skipper Jenkins added: “The guys showed great determination to see out the game and the main positive is the caps and experience some of our younger guys got from the match.
“It’s a Test match and the atmosphere was very good. Everything we’ve heard surrounding this game was very positive and we’re really pleased to get the result.”
Wales had gone to the break 14-3 up, tries from Hallam Amos and scrum-half debutant Williams responding to a penalty from Elton Jantjies.
In the second half, the Springboks hit back as Test debutants Travis Ismaiel and Makazole Mapimpi both crossed for tries, the latter coming after a yellow card for Wales centre Owen Watkin who was penalised for deliberately knocking the ball out of play.
Du Preez then replaced Jantjies and kicked South Africa ahead, but Elias won it at the death. The only downside for Wales was a first-half injury to wing Steffan Evans.
“Steff hyper-extended his knee and we’ll have to have a look at that on a scan. It doesn’t look brilliant, but we’ll just have to wait and see,” Gatland said.
“The heat out there was something we’ll experience in Japan at the World Cup next year and that will be a big benefit to us moving forwards.”
South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus was disappointed to see his team lose at the death in what was the former Munster boss’s first game in charge of the Springboks.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted and that’s disappointing because no-one ever wants to lose a Test match,” Erasmus said.
“There were a lot of defensive errors and we have to improve.
“All three of Wales’ tries came from kicking mistakes and overall it was very tough. We took a gamble by only flying into Washington on Wednesday, but the positive of that is we will have more time to prepare for the game with England when we get home.”
Shields will link up with Jones’ squad on Sunday having travelled from New Zealand, where he must complete his Super Rugby commitments before joining Wasps in time for next season.
The 27-year-old has yet to be tested in the Premiership yet is preferred ahead of back rows such as Don Armand, who has enjoyed an outstanding season for Exeter.
Moody, the former England captain who amassed 74 caps including three for the British and Irish Lions, is uncomfortable with his selection for the series against the Springboks that starts on Saturday week.
“I know the professional game is changing, but picking Shields doesn’t sit well for me at all,” said Moody, speaking on behalf of Land Rover.
“He’s a Kiwi who has played all of his rugby in New Zealand. When it was felt that the All Blacks weren’t going to work for him, another avenue opened up.
“If he’d spent a couple of years in the Premiership earning his stripes, that would sit better with me.
“Eddie is able to pick him and he has done, but it’s discouraging for the English flankers who have come through the system here.”
Shields will contest the number six jersey held by Chris Robshaw and on the other side of the scrum Jones is looking for a traditional openside in the belief that the changing emphasis of the game has made a fetcher necessary.
Highly-impressive 19-year-old Tom Curry is likely to fill the role against South Africa, adding to the solitary cap he won in Argentina last year – and Moody is excited by his emergence.
“I have to admit I’m not entirely sure what Eddie is looking for in the back row,” Moody said.
“To start with he was looking for an out and out seven, Matt Kvesic was that option but he was never really given an opportunity.
“If there’s a need for an out and out seven, then bear in mind we’ve only produced two others in the last 20 or 30 years – Neil Back and Andy Robinson.
“But what a young talent Tom Curry is and he needs to be nurtured and given the right environment to thrive in.
Moody has thrown a bit of a curveball contender into the mix! https://t.co/zyVCrEdbBD— GiveMeSport RugbyU (@GMS_RugbyUnion) May 31, 2018
“He was capped in Argentina playing against hard men. It’s a partisan environment there so he has experience of that now, which will only help him in South Africa where he’ll come up against enormous human beings who just want to batter a young man into submission to see if he’s made of the right stuff.
“He brings athleticism, playing ability and nous over the ball. You want to see a young player take his opportunity and Tom did that in Argentina and you want to see it happen again.”
* Lewis Moody is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover has this year celebrated its testimonial season of supporting grassroots rugby in the UK. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal