Elsom's 'number one priority' forced his return to Australia


AUSTRALIAN BACKROW Rocky Elsom wished to remain with Leinster next season but was forced to return to Australia on the insistence of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU). The governing body of the sport in Australia required Elsom to play his rugby at home if he wished to be considered for the Australian team in the next World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.

“Rocky really wanted to stay at Leinster and also represent his country in Test match rugby – which is the highest honour for any player,” said Leinster coach Michael Cheika.

“Up until today we had been negotiating with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to secure this scenario but unfortunately the ARU would not allow it and told him that to play for the Wallabies he had to be playing with an Australian franchise. Rocky’s desire to play Test rugby has to be respected and we wish him well with that and thank him for his contribution to the club and all its supporters. We hope to see him back in the Leinster blue one day.”

Elsom was key to Leinster winning the Heineken Cup this year for the first time but yesterday a statement from the player brought to an end any thoughts that he could remain in Donnybrook for next season’s campaign.

“I loved my time at the club and feel very fortunate to have been part of a great team and such a successful season,” said the Australian. “My career in the near future is in Australia with the Wallabies, but I can’t say enough how much I’ve appreciated the support of the Leinster public and the team at Leinster.”

Elsom has been selected to play against Australia for the Barbarians in Sydney this weekend and has targeted a place in Robbie Deans’ squad for the first of two Tests against Italy. “Playing for Australia means a lot to me. Playing for the Wallabies is my number one priority,” said Elsom.