SYDNEY (AP) Australia coach Michael Cheika has been blocked from picking Pete Samu for the three-test series against Ireland, but said there is a spot waiting for him if approval comes from New Zealand Rugby.
Samu signed a two-year deal with the ACT Brumbies this week to make him eligible for Wallaby selection. Otherwise, there were five uncapped players in Cheika’s 32-man squad named Wednesday.
Rugby Australia submitted an official request to New Zealand Rugby for the release of the Crusaders forward, but approval had not come through late Wednesday.
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”I have been told at this point I can’t select him. But there is a spot for him there,” Cheika said. ”At this point, it is in other’s hands.”
Clearance for the Melbourne-born Samu would be entirely at New Zealand Rugby’s discretion. The 26-year-old Samu is also eligible for the All Blacks through residency.
While World Rugby’s regulations force the release of players for test duty in June, there is a sub-clause that allows them to deny requests when the player holds dual eligibility.
Rookies in the squad include hookers Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Folau Fainga’a, and outside backs Tom Banks and Jack Maddocks.
Jordan Uelese was named at hooker. Stephen Moore retired at the end of the 2017 season, while fellow hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will be rested for the Ireland series after completing club duties with English team Leicester.
Uelese, who has only played two tests, will have a tough assignment against Ireland, playing against one of the world’s best hookers, Rory Best.
Ireland and Australia play tests on June 9 in Brisbane, June 16 in Melbourne and June 23 in Sydney.
Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa, Rory Arnold, Adam Coleman, Folau Fainga’a, Ned Hanigan, Michael Hooper (captain), Sekope Kepu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, David Pocock, Tom Robertson, Rob Simmons, Scott Sio, Izack Rodda, Caleb Timu, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese. Backs: Tom Banks, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Tevita Kuridrani, Jack Maddocks, Sefanaia Naivalu, Nick Phipps, Joe Powell, Curtis Rona.