Crusaders coach Scott Robertson says it's only a matter of time before Pete Samu represents Australia.
Loose forward Samu wasn't named in the initial Wallabies squad to play Ireland next month but coach Michael Cheika wants him and the 26-year-old, who was born in Melbourne, has aligned himself with Australian rugby after signing with the Brumbies from next season.
Samu's release is yet to be agreed by New Zealand Rugby, but Robertson said he had no issue with Samu's desire to represent Australia or his planned departure for Canberra after this season.
"We'll support New Zealand Rugby's decision," Robertson said. "He's going to be a Wallaby at some stage isn't he? If that's in June good on him ... he's an Australian who wants to play for Australia. He's good enough to be a Wallaby."
Asked whether Samu's decision could count against him at the Crusaders for the remainder of the season, Robertson said: "He's contracted to the Crusaders — if he plays well enough he'll play.
"It's not an issue at all — I think it's just professional sport."
Samu hasn't been named in the Crusaders side to play the Chiefs in Hamilton tomorrow after returning from concussion.
He is a dependable hard worker who often surprises with his power — qualities which have obviously attracted the interest of Cheika — and fortunately for Robertson the defending champions have signed Whetu Douglas for two years as a replacement.
Douglas, similar to Samu in terms of his work rate and ability to break a game open, played six times for Robertson's men last year as a temporary replacement and impressed hugely before having to honour a commitment with Italian club Benetton.
The 27-year-old former Waikato player has also signed with Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Meanwhile, Chiefs coach Colin Cooper named an unchanged side from the team that took down the Waratahs for the derby.
The good news for Chiefs and All Blacks fans is the fitness of openside flanker Sam Cane, who returns to the bench after recovering from an abdominal injury.
Cooper said he was pleased with his team's performance last week and welcomed the return of Cane to the No20 jersey.
"The bench will bring a lot of excitement and spark — we're really pleased with the quality we have available — it's a big boost having Sam back," he said.