Leinster unveil arrival of Douglas, but details still unknown

Capture of the second row from Waratahs feels like a genuine coup

Kane Douglas' arrival in Dublin – at an unscheduled date and for an unknown period of time (a policy Matt O'Connor has adopted from Leicester) – is interesting in itself for the calibre of player Leinster has captured entering a world cup season.

Douglas, 25 on June 1st, is already an established member of the Wallaby engine room, making his capture from Michael Cheika’s Waratahs feel like a genuine coup.

But this may come at the expense of Quinn Roux. Leinster have yet to release the South African-born project player as no club has come in for the 23 year old. As of now, Roux remains contracted to Leinster for next season.

There are other problems with the Douglas signing. Contracted by the Australian Rugby Union until December 31st, Leinster can either buy him out, hope for an early release, or wait.


This is entirely at the ARU's discretion. It's conceivable that Douglas could arrive after the Rugby Championship, which runs into October, or Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie might only select those who will be available for next year's world cup.

November call-up
Either way, Australia could recall him for the November tour, which visits Dublin on November 22nd.

This very problem presented itself last season when Zane Kirchner rejoined the Springbok squad only a few weeks after joining Leinster.

Keeping Roux on the payroll is not ideal as Douglas doesn’t come cheap. Industry sources put his contract, which is least a two-year deal, close to € 300,000 a season.

Wallaby players can expect to make from $60-80,000 (€ 40-54,000), depending on win bonuses, from the world cup alone.

Cheika is building a hard-nosed club in Sydney, much like he did in Dublin, so losing his first-choice loose-head lock is far from ideal.

That’s down to the ARU not satisfying their end of the bargain.

Not wildly dissimilar to how the IRFU do business, once a player is categorised as a frontline international he gets a top-up from the ARU.

The offer to keep Douglas in Australia was some way short of the Leinster deal. So he walked.

As James O’Connor, the troublesome but wonderfully gifted young Wallaby exile, was informed, to miss Super Rugby in 2015 means to miss out on consideration for Australia’s world cup squad.

Current Wallaby captain Ben Mowen is another who took up the offer of European rugby, having signed for Montpellier.

But Mowen will be 30 in December while Douglas, having gathered only 14 caps, turns his back on a chance to play in the sport’s showpiece event before he enters his prime.

League background
It might have something to do with a deeper-rooted Rugby League background. Older brother Luke (28) has carved out a respectable career with the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL although younger sibling Jake plays junior rugby in England.

Maybe it’s the money, or just the need for a change of scenery.

“It’s a big decision but one which I am very excited about,” said Douglas.

“I’ve had plenty of time to weigh lots of things up and the time is right for me and my partner to experience something new and something totally different. We are heading for a new challenge in life and that’s what excites us.”

Leinster will continue struggling to fill the void left by Jonathan Sexton and are still seeking an outside centre to replace Brian O’Driscoll.

At least Leo Cullen's step up to the coaching staff should be ably filled by the six foot eight inch Douglas. And when Devin Toner is away with Ireland.

It appears that Leinster have got themselves a man mountain from the Australian countryside, who O'Connor believes will be more in the vein of Nathan Hines than Steven Sykes.

“We are delighted to be able to formally announce Kane’s signing,” said O’Connor yesterday. “For a young guy he already has a wealth of rugby knowledge and experience under his belt and we also feel that he has the right character to succeed at Leinster.”

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent