Rugby Union

Sydney Shute Shield star James Dargaville signs two-year Super Rugby contract with the ACT Brumbies in Canberra

He's drawn comparisons to former Wallabies and ACT Brumbies warrior Pat McCabe thanks to his hard-running style and to having played with the same club in Sydney.

Now, James Dargaville has arrived in Canberra eager to make the leap from the National Rugby Championship and learn from the Brumbies' star-studded backline.

Rising star: James Dargaville wants to graduate from the NRC to Super Rugby.
Rising star: James Dargaville wants to graduate from the NRC to Super Rugby. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The 22-year-old former Australian under-20s representative has signed a two-year contract with the Brumbies, completing his first testing session with the Super Rugby club on Tuesday.

Dargaville has been a standout for Sydney University in the Shute Shield for the past two seasons. He was also one of the few bright spots for the Sydney Stars in the NRC.

His performances on the wing and also in the centres have seen Dargaville likened to McCabe, who was forced to retire this year with ongoing neck injuries.

Dargaville played in the juniors with the Warringah club in Sydney at the same time that McCabe got his break with the Brumbies.


"He was just getting signed and starting up, and it was good to watch his progression," Dargaville said of McCabe.

"He never got a run with the Waratahs, then came down here and absolutely killed it.

"I've been compared to him a little bit over the years because I run straight and hard. You take it with a grain of salt and you want to be your own player, but it's not a bad thing to be compared to someone like that."

Dargaville started his career as a back-rower and made the switch to the outside backs only two years ago.

"I haven't grown since I was 14. I was a beanpole and then I slowly just filled out," he said.

"The biggest adjustment has been defensively. Instead of just hitting people, you have to track them and defend properly."

The Brumbies have an abundance of riches in the outside backs.

Wallabies duo Henry Speight and Joe Tomane will have the front-running for spots on the wing, with Tevita Kuridrani and Christian Lealiifano at outside and inside centre respectively.

"It's very surreal to be in the same squad as guys like that," Dargaville said.

"Tevita is killing it, and Speight and Tomane are great to watch.

"If I can learn anything from them, it'd be great."

Dargaville is also keen to expand his own game under the guidance of Brumbies coach and Wallabies great Stephen Larkham.

"I definitely think it will bring a lot more to my game," he said.

"Learning off him will diversify how I play because I feel I am more of a ball carrier and a straight-up tackler.

"If I can add some ball-playing to my game, I'd be excited about that."

Dargaville had a chance to showcase his talent in the inaugural season of the NRC, which provided a step between Super Rugby and club rugby.

"I think the NRC is vital to rugby in Australia," Dargaville said.

"Shute Shield rugby is good and I'm sure the Canberra club competition is equally competitive, but just testing yourself against Super Rugby players week-in and week-out makes you realise what you have to do to perform at the next level."

The Brumbies start pre-season training on November 21.