Sydney – Wallabies flanker Rocky Elsom has been granted an early release from his Australian Rugby Union contract following this year’s Tri-Nations series to enable him to join Leinster, the ARU said Thursday.
Chief executive John O’Neill said Elsom, who has 33 Test caps, would be free to take up a deal with the Irish club in September, three months before his contract was due to expire.
O’Neill said the 25-year-old Waratahs’ backrower was being released on unspecified “compassionate grounds.”
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further on the conversations we have had with Rocky,” O’Neill said in a statement.
“He took us into his confidence and this remains a confidential matter between Rocky and the ARU.
“We also factored into the equation that not giving him this assistance, in the form of an early release, meant we could have lost him to Australian rugby permanently.
“As it stands now, we hope to have Rocky back in Australia by the middle of next year.”
O’Neill said Elsom had been keen to play for the Wallabies during their November tour to Europe while based in Ireland.
However, ARU policy would prohibit Elsom’s selection under those circumstances, O’Neill said.
“Players based overseas are ineligible for Wallabies’ selection and there is no intention of relaxing that stance,” O’Neill said.
Elsom, who made his Test debut against Samoa in 2005, was one of Australia’s best performers in last year’s World Cup in France.Tweet