ARU to release Elsom after Tri-Nations - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

ARU to release Elsom after Tri-Nations

26/06/2008 04:19:23 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies flanker Rocky Elsom has been granted an early release from his contract following the 2008 Tri-Nations series on unspecified "compassionate grounds".

Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill announced that Elsom would be free to depart and take up a deal with Irish club Leinster in September, three months before his contract was due to expire.

He declined to elaborate on the compassionate grounds for letting the 25-year-old veteran of 33 Test appearances go early, but said Elsom could have been lost to Australian rugby for good if it wasn't given.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment further on the conversations we have had with Rocky," O'Neill said.

"He took us into his confidence and this remains a confidential matter between Rocky and the ARU.

"What we can say is that we have offered Rocky valuable advice moving forward.

"We also factored into the equation that not giving him this assistance, in the form of an early release, meant we could have lost him to Australian rugby permanently.

"As it stands now, we hope to have Rocky back in Australia by the middle of next year."

O'Neill said Elsom had been keen to be available for the Wallabies during their Spring Tour to Europe in November while based in Ireland.

However ARU policy would prohibit Elsom's selection in those circumstances.

"Players based overseas are ineligible for Wallabies selection," he said.

"There is no intention of relaxing that stance."

He said the Elsom situation was not a case of rubber-stamping a convenient sabbatical for a leading player.

"This was a specific request and we looked at all the factors involved," O'Neill said.

We want our best players playing in Australia.

"It is important to our game at all levels to have the Wallabies wearing the jumpers of our Super Rugby and Test teams and, on occasions, our club sides.

"While we will miss Rocky on the Spring Tour, he could be back playing again with the Qantas Wallabies next season."

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