Rugby Union

Barista Matt Toomua wants Brumbies to entertain on and off the field

ACT Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua jokes he'll need to stop at his coffee van for "table of espressos" in the warm up to help him keep pace with the team's plan to play a high-octane attacking style this season.

But he admits the Brumbies need to let their rugby do the talking as they attempt to win back fans with a new entertaining style and a revamped game-day experience to lure the crowds back.

Matt Toomua treated his Brumbies teammates to free coffees on Thursday morning before training.
Matt Toomua treated his Brumbies teammates to free coffees on Thursday morning before training. Photo: Graham Tidy

The Brumbies will start their Super Rugby season when they play the Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium on Friday night and the club hopes warm weather and a semi-final re-match will help fill the stands.

The Brumbies have spent the pre-season working on new moves and coach Stephen Larkham giving an attacking licence to free up the talent in his back line.

Off the field officials have also been working to make Canberra Stadium a more attractive venue, with refurbished corporate boxes, Toomua's Two Before Ten coffee truck and a host of new food vendors at "the Slab".

Toomua treated the entire Brumbies squad to a free coffee to pep them up before training on Thursday, but he says they'll need more than a caffeine hit for their Super Rugby assault.

"We want to revitalise the game day experience for people, on the field and off the field," Toomua said.

"At the end of the day we're in the entertainment business. Hopefully people can come here, grab a coffee or six and then go in and enjoy their time at the stadium.

Matt Toomua treated his Brumbies teammates to free coffees on Thursday morning before training.
Matt Toomua treated his Brumbies teammates to free coffees on Thursday morning before training. Photo: Graham Tidy

"We've got a big game to start ... we say every year we want to be more attacking but this year it's tangible so far. I don't want to sell it too early.

"I've enjoyed making coffee for quite a while now, I guess this brings my two loves and two addictions together."

Toomua moonlights as a barista, but will start the season at inside centre while Christian Lealiifano will take the chief playmaking duties at No. 10.

Lealiifano also has the main kicking duties after the departure of Nic White and Jesse Mogg.

White and Mogg were the go-to men for clearing kicks and long-range goal attempts.

"I've just been focused on getting my rhythm and technique back again ... a bit of distance is coming back," Lealiifano said.

"Hopefully we don't get too many 55-metre penalties to win games ... we might have to take the lineout. I've done a lot of work with Damian Hill and [Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham] as well so it's feeling good."

Larkham said his players would have the freedom to entertain, but does not want to sacrifice smart rugby for all out attack.

"It's always about balance. We want to run a bit more out of our zone, but if you run too many times out of there you're taking a risk you don't need to take," Larkham said.

Two Brumbies - Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight - will run on to Canberra Stadium with a heavy heart after their home nation of Fiji was left reeling after being hit by Cyclone Winston.

Both players will donate signed jerseys for an auction after the match, with volunteers collecting donations at the match.

Speight visited the Fiji High Commissioner to Australia this week to see how he could help, while players have donated kit and boxes of clothes have been left at the club's University of Canberra headquarters.

"Everyone's going through a tough time at the moment, Tevita and I just felt it was the right thing to do," Speight said.

"Hopefully we can get some assistance for them. No one was spared, some were worse off than others. I'm just keen to give back. If you've got a spare dollar or two, it all helps."

Kuridrani added: "Hearing the news and everything happening in Fiji has really affected me this week thinking about people back home and the things they've been going through.

"Just one dollar can help someone with water ... all the money raised will be sent back home."

SUPER RUGBY ROUND ONE

Friday: ACT Brumbies v Wellington Hurricanes at Canberra Stadium, 7.40pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

BRUMBIES TEAM: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Toomua, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 8. Ita Vaea, 7. David Pocock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Rory Arnold, 4. Sam Carter, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Allan Alaalatoa. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Leslie Leuluailii-Makin, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Jarrad Butler, 21. Michael Dowsett, 22. Andrew Smith, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.

* The Brumbies will be collecting donations at the game for Cyclone Winston relief in Fiji. For more details on the Brumbies' campaign to raise money for Fiji, visit brumbies.com.au