Kane Douglas has barely touched a ball since March but is backing himself in as he prepares to make a late bid to be included in the Wallabies’ World Cup squad.
Douglas signed a three-year contract with the Queensland Reds and Australian Rugby Union on Friday, making him immediately eligible for a return to the Test arena.
Australia coach Michael Cheika, who coached Douglas at the NSW Waratahs in their 2014 championship year, excluded the 26-year-old lock from his squad for next weekend’s first Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand.
But Douglas has been invited to train with the Wallabies next week, and it is there he will learn if his World Cup ambitions are a touch too lofty.
Douglas has not played since March 7, his last game for Irish club Leinster before he underwent season-ending back surgery to correct a bulging disc.
“I had a few injections and it just wasn’t coming good. I couldn’t sit down for longer than five minutes or I was in pain,” he said.
“I needed to do something. I’ve been feeling good ever since. I just need to start running around a bit more and hopefully get a ball in my hand.”
While a long way from the kind of match fitness a player should be in this close to a World Cup, Douglas remains hopeful he can convince Cheika he can play a part.
“He’ll have to just see how I go at training,” Douglas said.
“I’d back myself, but I’ll know myself if I’m training alright and I’m feeling good then I’ll be good to go. But it’s not up to me to get selected, it’s up to someone else.”
Douglas said he was pleased to be back in Australia, having sought a release from Leinster just one year into a three-year deal due to family reasons.
He said the idea of moving closer to family popped into his head and then became so “infectious” he had to explore what his options were.
“Leinster were pretty good, they knew all the reasons and they totally understood where I was coming from,” Douglas said.
“We came to an agreement in the end and hopefully I didn’t leave on the worst terms – obviously, there are going to be people that aren’t going to like it.
“It didn’t work out in the end but did a bit of lineout calling, experienced some different rugby and knuckled down in the wet weather and packed a few more scrums than I probably would over here.
“It wasn’t a bad move going over, I don’t regret going over, just things changed and I wanted to come home.”