Australia international Kane Douglas is close to returning Down Under after asking Irish club Leinster to allow him to return to Super Rugby due to family reasons. The second-row is seeking an early release from his contract with Leinster on compassionate grounds, ending his time in Ireland after just one season and with another three years left on his contract at the club.
Having arrived in the Irish capital at the beginning of the 2014/15 season, Douglas never settled at Leinster and failed to produce his best form following his move from the Waratahs. With an eye on the World Cup later in 2015, the 26-year-old is now looking at securing a move to the Queensland Reds in a bid to strengthen his case for inclusion in Michael Cheika's plans in England.
With his girlfriend expecting the couple's first child back in Australia, Douglas is believed to be eager to find a club close to his brother, Luke, who is currently playing with the Gold Coast Titans. The Reds’ desperation for a second row has seen many putting two and two together and coming up with a deal that would work for all parties. The issue at the moment is Leinster's unwillingness to release Douglas unless they receive a decent return on their investment.
The Australian Rugby Union have already rejected the Pro12 side's request of $370,000 for Douglas' release, although negotiations are still ongoing, with the ARU well aware that the lock needs to be playing Super Rugby if he's going to be eligible for the World Cup.
As long as 10/1 with bet365 to win the World Cup at the time of writing, Australia will need all their best players available to them in England in September if they are going to have any chance of challenging the likes of New Zealand and hosts England. While Douglas hasn't shone for Leinster since his move to the northern hemisphere, the powerful forward has shown during his previous spell in Super Rugby just what he brings to a team, and many Wallabies fans feel the former Waratahs star would be a contender for a starting role for Australia if he can find a club. With new Wallabies head coach Cheika preparing to lead his team into his first tournament, it remains to be seen just how much Australia could do with the presence of an in-form Douglas in the second row.
For Leinster, losing such a high-profile member of their squad when they haven't got anywhere near their money's worth in terms of on-field performances will be a blow, although one they can't really do much about. Having made some serious moves to bring the Australian international to Ireland from Super Rugby, Leinster will be forced to start their search for someone to replace a player who made 20 appearances, showing glimpses of his best form but never on a consistent enough basis to help the Dublin-based side compete for honours, either domestically on in Europe.