Cooper, Samu on Cheika’s Wallabies radar, but Super Rugby comes first

Crusaders Pete Samu attempts to bust a Brumbies tackle last year.

Photo: Mark Baker

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says ACT Brumbies recruitment targets Quade Cooper and Pete Samu are on the Test radar, but Super Rugby will be put first in selection conversations.

The Queensland Reds have exiled Cooper to Brisbane club rugby while Canterbury Crusaders back-rower Samu is reportedly on the cusp of signing a deal to move Canberra next year.

Melbourne-born Samu's potential arrival would bolster the Brumbies' forward pack and also put him in Wallabies contention, possibly as early as the June Test series if he agrees to an ACT deal.

It's unclear if Samu would be available to play against Ireland, but he is an attractive prospect for Cheika given NSW Waratahs flanker Ned Hanigan is set to miss the series.

Players who commit to a multi-year Australian rugby contract are eligible for Wallabies duties.


"[Samu's] obviously playing good footy, he was on the fringes there at the [NSW Waratahs] when I was coaching there," Cheika said on Kick and Chase on Fox Sports.

"He's a solid guy, a good lad as well. But I think the rules say you've got to sign for two [years] if you want to be eligible automatically, so I don't know what he's doing there."

Samu would be a massive addition to the Brumbies and if he signs a deal, his arrival next year would offset the departure of Lolo Fakaosilea.

Fakaosilea has been granted an early release from his Brumbies contract to move to Japan, but he will stay in Canberra on standby until the team returns from South Africa.

The Brumbies have also been keeping a close eye on Cooper's contract situation after the 70-Test playmaker rejected an offer to reignite his Super Rugby career in the capital.

The Reds and Rugby Australia are footing the bill of Cooper's lucrative contract only to have him play club rugby for Souths.

Should Quade Cooper join the Brumbies?

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar made an approach to Cooper to gauge his interest about moving to Canberra, but Cooper said he wanted to stay in Brisbane.

Asked if Cheika would consider Cooper for Test duties, he said: "If he hadn't had the opportunity to go and play Super Rugby, I would say yes because it's not his fault.

"But he's been offered opportunity and I think he should take one. I would like him to take one so he could put himself in a position [to play]. If he hadn't an opportunity, fair enough. It's not his fault."

David Pocock is set to make his Brumbies comeback on Sunday morning in South Africa in the clash against the Johannesburg Lions at Ellis Park.

Pocock hasn't played for the Wallabies since taking a 12-month sabbatical from Australian rugby after the 2016 spring tour of Europe.

But he will almost certainly be included in the squad to play against Ireland, despite playing only a handful of games this season after managing injuries.

Pocock has been a massive absence from the Brumbies' past two games, but is set to return from a calf injury in Johannesburg.


Sunday: Johannesburg Lions v ACT Brumbies at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 1.15am. TV time: Live on Fox Sports.

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Chris Dutton

Chris Dutton is a sports reporter at The Canberra Times.

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