Kane Douglas has signed a three-year deal with the Queensland Reds and the Australian Rugby Union, paving the way for an immediate Wallabies call-up for the former Test lock.
The 26-year-old recently severed ties with Irish club Leinster one season into a three-year deal to seek a move to south-east Queensland, citing pressing family issues.
Douglas, who won the Super Rugby title with the NSW Waratahs last year, is now eligible for a call-up to Michael Cheika’s Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship decider against New Zealand, which will be announced later on Friday.
“It’s going to be a new challenge for me, but I’m looking forward to it,” Douglas said.
“I know a heap of the Reds guys from playing with them at the Wallabies.
“It’s great to see the Wallabies build some depth across the park over the past 12 months, especially at lock, and I’ll be working hard to fight my way back into contention.”
Cheika, who coached Douglas at the Waratahs, said he was delighted the 14-cap Wallaby has returned to Australian rugby.
But any minutes the hard-nosed second-rower gets in an Australian before the World Cup will be dependent upon how well he has recovered from back surgery, which ruined the second half of his season with Ireland.
“It’s great to see Kane back playing his rugby in Australia for the long term,” Cheika said.
“His return will bolster our tight five stocks and that is a strong objective of ours over the next 18 months.
“Kane will join a very competitive race to the wear the number four and five jerseys within the Wallabies, with (Rob) Simmons, (Will) Skelton, (James) Horwill, (Rory) Arnold, (Sam) Carter and (Dean) Mumm all in the mix.
“We will see how Kane is progressing physically over the next week, before considering him for any game time.”
Douglas, who stands at an imposing 202cm and 119kg, is an ideal signing for the Reds following the loss of James Horwill to English club Harlequins next year.
But in essence he has fallen into Queensland’s lap – and, in turn, Cheika’s as well – as a result of family circumstances.
“Sometimes circumstances align and they work in your favour. Sometimes they don’t. In the case of Kane we consider ourselves fortunate in that his family are living in Queensland,” said Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham.
“We know Kane is aspirational to represent his country again. Following any potential Wallabies duties, we are looking forward to seeing him in our program at Ballymore and wearing a Reds jersey.”