Peter Samu cleared to play for Wallabies, Jordan Uelese out

Martin Hunter/Getty Images

Crusaders flanker Peter Samu has been cleared to debut for the Wallabies against Ireland, but that good news is offset by the loss of hooker Jordan Uelese to a knee injury, likely for the rest of the season.

Samu was able to join the Australian squad in Brisbane on Sunday ahead of the first Test at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday after New Zealand Rugby agreed to release him following days of haggling with Rugby Australia.


However Head Coach Michael Cheika's delight was heavily tempered on Sunday by the diagnosis for Uelese, the most like starter at hooker for the upcoming series..

He has a suspected ruptured ACL suffered in the Melbourne Rebels' win over the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

Instead of flying to Brisbane, Uelese returned to Melbourne for further scans this week with a replacement expected to be added to the squad on Monday.

With veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau sitting out the Ireland series after his European season, it means Cheika is set to hand a debut in the No.2 jersey to either 22-year-old Queensland Reds hooker Brendon Paenga-Amosa or young Brumbies rake Folau Fainga'a.

The arrival of Samu gives Cheika something he has long sought - an extra big, ball-carrying option at blindside flanker alongside smaller backrowers Michael Hooper and David Pocock.

RA CEO Raelene Castle said Melbourne-born Samu had been released for a potential Test debut after what she described as "robust but fair" discussions with NZR.

He became eligible for the Wallabies after signing a deal to return home and play for the Brumbies in Super Rugby next season.

NZR reportedly sought $NZ50,000 ($AUD46,000) compensation for his provincial side Tasman but neither Castle nor NZR would disclose the terms of their agreement.

NZR had said it was under no obligation to release Samu, whose contract aligned him to New Zealand, with Head of Rugby Chris Lendrum sayingTasman had given its blessing for their player to pursue his Test aspirations.

Samu will return to the Super Rugby-leading Crusaders after the June international window and, if selected, be available to join the Wallabies for the Rugby Championship.

He will likely be competing with impressive young Queensland Reds player Caleb Timu for a backrow or bench spot.