Resolution to the Pete Samu saga is likely to come in the next 24 hours, but only if Rugby Australia is willing to make a reasonable compensation payment to ensure Tasman are not out of pocket for losing their loose forward to the Wallabies.
Samu, who has agreed to join the Brumbies next season, is contracted to play for Tasman in the Mitre 10 Cup — making his situation different to that to the one in which Hurricanes captain Brad Shields found himself earlier this month.
The Herald understands New Zealand Rugby are not blocking Samu from playing for the Wallabies against Ireland in June, but they need to ensure Tasman are not financially damaged by allowing the release.
Chris Lendrum, NZR head of professional rugby, last night confirmed the ball was back in Rugby Australia's court, so to speak.
"We put a proposal to Rugby Australia early today [yesterday], that would allow Pete Samu to be available for selection in June and for the Rugby Championship. Rugby Australia is currently contemplating this proposal," he said.
Samu has effectively been picked by the Wallabies, although he hasn't been named yet.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika was expected to select 33 players for the June series but named only 32, confirming he was keeping the last place open for 26-year-old Samu who was born and raised in Australia. "I have been told at this point I can't select him. But there is a spot for him there," Cheika said.
If Samu didn't have a contract with Tasman, his release would already have been agreed. He would be released to play for the Wallabies this month, return to finish the season with the Crusaders and then be free to play in the Rugby Championship.
But because he has made a commitment to Tasman that complicates matters. If Samu was being selected by the All Blacks there would be no issue as under the terms of the player collective agreement, provincial teams are compensated if they lose players to national duty.
The compensation money comes out of the Player Payment Pool.
Samu is being selected by the Wallabies, however, which is not part of the agreed deal and essentially it will have to be RA that comes up with the payment to gain release.
It's likely Samu's contract with Tasman would be worth between $30,000 and $50,000. RA may have to fund all or part of that payment to satisfy Tasman.
There is precedent for players being bought out of provincial contracts. In 2011, Luke McAlister wanted to get out of his deal with North Harbour so he could register with his new club, Toulouse, in time to be eligible for the European Cup. The French club paid $30,000 compensation.