Rocky making Leinster move
Rocky Elsom will join Magners League champions Leinster in September after the ARU released him early from his contract.
Last Updated: 26/06/08 7:45am
Wallabies flanker Rocky Elsom will join Magners League champions Leinster in September after the Australian Rugby Union agreed to release him early from his contract.
Elsom will play for the Wallabies in the upcoming Tri-Nations series before moving to Ireland to join provincial side Leinster.
His ARU contract was not due to expire until the end of December but Wallabies officials have granted him an early release on what they called "compassionate grounds".
33-cap Elsom, part of the NSW Waratahs side that reached the Super 14 final, will spend just a year in Leinster before returning to Australian rugby.
ARU chief executive John O'Neill said the union discussed all the factors before opting to allow Elsom to leave his contract early for Leinster.
O'Neill insisted though that Elsom was not been given a 12-month sabbatical to experience life in the Northern Hemisphere before returning Down Under.
The New Zealand Rugby Union recently offered fly-half Dan Carter and skipper Richie McCaw controversial sabbaticals, but O'Neill insisted Elsom is not benefiting from a similar move.
"This was a specific request and we looked at all the factors involved," said O'Neill.
"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 added that Elsom was keen to feature in the Australia side on their tour of Europe in November whilst he is based in Ireland.
However, the current ARU policy means that overseas players cannot be selected for the Wallabies.
O'Neill says that the policy remains intact and there will not be any exceptions made for Elsom.
"Players based overseas are ineligible for Wallabies' selection and there is no intention of relaxing that stance," O'Neill added.