Glasgow have agreed to release lock Brian Alainu’uese from his contract eight months early to allow him to join three-time European champions Toulon with immediate effect.
The 24-year-old Samoan, born in New Zealand – who hasn’t played for the Warriors for almost a year because of injury – was courted by the Top 14 giants over the last few months and a compensation package to release him from the remainder of his two-year deal at Scotstoun has now been agreed.
“Big Brian” at 6 foot 7 inches and 21 stones, was brought to Scotland during Gregor Townsend’s final season from the Chiefs Super franchise on the recommendation of Dave Rennie before he succeeded Townsend as Warriors head coach.
He made 22 appearances for the club quickly becoming a fan favourite at Scotstoun with his power and handling skills, but injury plagued the majority of his latter time at the club.
He was due to make his return for the Warriors in the next few weeks, but was invited to Toulon – desperate for extra bodies after their desperate start to the Top 14 and European season – to talk over future terms and now it’s been agreed that he can join the French club straight away.
Rennie had said that the Warriors were unsure whether they would be offering a new contract to Alainu’uese beyond the end of his current deal, and that they would be sympathetic to the player if he could find someone willing to make a long-term commitment.
“It’s a decision that’s in the best interest of both the player and the club,” said Rennie.
“Brian’s had a number of injuries over the last couple of years and we’ve not been able to play him as often as we would have liked, but he’s a good man, is very popular among the squad and will be missed.
“When he’s fit and firing he’s an excellent player and we wish him all the best in France.”
Alainu’uese said: “I’ve really enjoyed my two years in Glasgow. They’re a good bunch of boys and everyone made me feel very welcome.
“I hope the club goes on to have a lot of success in the future.”
It’s the second time a prominent Warriors forward has been plucked in mid-contract by a Top 14 team, following Leone Nakarawa leaving for Racing 92 in Paris in 2015. Somewhat ironically, Alainu’uese was spotted as a possible like-for-like replacement for the Fijian.
Glasgow are not exactly well-off for second rows at present with Tim Swinson among the long-term injured, but Rob Harley has successfully switched to lock in recent games and the power deficit the Warriors struggled with last year seems to have been solved on the training pitch without the addition of much in the way of new personnel.
However the compensation package for Alainu’uese could see the Warriors dip into the market to fill any gaps in Rennie’s squad.
Glasgow managing director Nathan Bombrys confirmed: “This move gives Brian an opportunity to secure a longer-term contract and will allow us to strengthen our squad in other key areas.”