Kane Douglas is set to be unveiled as a Queensland Reds player by the end of next week, clearing the way for a possible tilt at Wallabies’ World Cup selection.
The rugged 14-Test cap lock is back in Australia after severing ties with Irish club Leinster, who say “a suitable agreement” has been reached to release Douglas with two years remaining on his contract.
It’s expected that Douglas, a Super Rugby Championship winner with the NSW Waratahs in 2014, will be announced as Queensland’s newest signing next week.
That would pave the way for his former NSW coach Michael Cheika to call him into Wallabies camp ahead of the two Bledisloe Cup Tests on August 8 in Sydney and a week later in Auckland.
Under Australian Rugby Union (ARU) rules, Douglas is ineligible for national selection until he signs with a Super Rugby franchise.
The finer details of Douglas’ exit from Leinster are unclear but it’s believed the player may have paid the six-figure sum required by the Irish club’s release clause.
An ARU spokesman reaffirmed the governing body’s stance against paying exit fees for overseas-based players and said the ARU did not contribute a cent towards bringing Douglas home.
Douglas had an indifferent debut year with Leinster and was plagued by a back injury across the second half of the season.
But the 26-year-old is believed to be over his fitness issues and should provide stern second-row competition for the likes of Will Skelton, Rob Simmons, James Horwill and Dean Mumm, who are currently in Argentina with the Wallabies squad ahead of the second Rugby Championship Test on Sunday morning (AEST).
Cheika is a noted fan of Douglas’ uncompromising playing style and last year believed the ARU had not done enough to keep him in the country.
His return is also ideal for the currently coachless Reds, who need to replace the Harlequins-bound Horwill.
Douglas has effectively fallen in Queensland’s lap after struggling to settle in Dublin and having family ties calling in Brisbane.
His mother Trish passed away in 2013, his girlfriend Jennarly is pregnant with the couple’s first child and his brother Luke plays for the NRL’s Gold Coast Titans.