Rugby Union

ACT Brumbies put faith in 14-minute rookie Joe Powell for two-year contract

Joe Powell is a Super Rugby rookie with only 14 minutes of experience, but the ACT Brumbies have taken a leap of faith to sign the Canberra junior for two years and back him to be a future star.

Scrumhalf Powell is the latest player to sign a new full-time deal in Canberra after finalising an agreement on Friday to stay with the club until at least 2017.

Tuggeranong VIkings scrumhalf Joe Powell has signed a two-year deal with the Brumbies.
Tuggeranong VIkings scrumhalf Joe Powell has signed a two-year deal with the Brumbies. Photo: Matt Bedford

What makes the new contract out of the ordinary is the fact Powell is on a one-year extended player squad deal which gives players a chance to prove themselves in Super Rugby.

Powell made his debut last year as injury cover for Nic White, plucked off the job site as a carpenter's apprentice to play three games.

However, he is yet to get on the field in the first three rounds of the season and hasn't played a game for the Brumbies since signing his first professional contract at the end of last year.

That hasn't deterred the Brumbies from investing in his future, and Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham approached Powell before the season started to offer him a contract.


"And three weeks later it's all done," Powell said. "I never wanted to go anywhere else, this is the best rugby program in Australia and the best place to improve.

"I was definitely shocked at how early it all came around. I was talking to some other guys and they were saying they only sorted out their contracts towards the end of the season.

Brumbies scrumhalf Joe Powell has put his carpenter's career on hold to sign a new deal with the Brumbies.
Brumbies scrumhalf Joe Powell has put his carpenter's career on hold to sign a new deal with the Brumbies. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

"It gives me confidence knowing they've got confidence in me to keep improving. I have to step up to that now, I can't rest on what I've done so far. I've got to repay the favour."


Powell is in a battle with Argentina international Tomas Cubelli and Michael Dowsett for scrumhalf game time this year.

Powell was in Canberra on Friday night watching from home as the Brumbies played the Western Force in Perth.

He will continue to train in the capital when the squad flies to South Africa on Saturday for a two-game tour against the Cape Town Stormers and Free State Cheetahs.

Larkham will assess injuries after playing the Force before finalising his travelling party, with Robbie Coleman, Ruan Smith, Michael Wells and Ita Vaea likely to link up with the team.

The Brumbies have been bolstered in recent weeks with Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio signing new contracts through until 2019. The club is still waiting for David Pocock to make a decision on his future.

Larkham is keen to invest in local talent, with Powell, Tom Staniforth, Robbie Coleman and Les Leuluailii-Makin all Canberra juniors who are part of the squad.

Powell, who has been a Brumbies paying member since he was four, is patiently waiting for his chance to impress and has vowed to work as hard as possible to be ready to play if called on.

The 21-year-old has been working with Larkham and Brumbies great George Gregan to improve his pass, and the legendary pair have no doubt Powell has what it takes to be a Super Rugby star.

"After two pre-seasons I feel comfortable going into any game on the bench or starting," Powell said.

"Bernie has said my chance will come this year, so I just have to be patient. It's good having one-on-one passing sessions with Greegs.

​"I think I've gotten over the initial shock of working with the guys. I just want to improve as much as possible, Bernie wants me to improve my pass with more consistency so he's got Greegs coming down to help me.

"I'll put the tools down for at least another couple of years now."

Meanwhile, defending Canberra John I Dent Cup champions Royals will play Melbourne first-grade premiers Harlequins in a pre-season clash in Albury on Saturday.

It will be a warm-up hitout before Royals begin their premiership defence in the capital on April 2.