THEY made their Super Rugby debuts for the ACT Brumbies only weeks apart and have forged a strong bond in the past five seasons.
Now, Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano will work side by side in their quest to hit the ground running next year.
Lealiifano had surgery last night after he dislocated and fractured his right ankle in the final minutes of Saturday night's 23-6 win against the NSW Waratahs at Canberra Stadium.
The 24-year-old will be sidelined for six months, ruling him out of the rest of the season for the Brumbies' and also ending any chance of a Wallabies call-up this year.
Toomua, 22, endured similar heartache when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the round-six loss to the Durban Sharks.
Toomua and Lealiifano - who both recently signed new two-year deals tying them to the Brumbies until 2014 - have trod a similar path since they made their debuts in 2008.
''We've been through a lot together, Christian and I, and this is something else,'' Toomua said yesterday. ''We're very, very close. He's got a tough period to get through but I think his return will be similar to mine. Hopefully we can do that.''
Lealiifano's form at five-eighth was so strong he was in the running to be drafted into the Wallabies for their mid-season Tests and the Rugby Championship against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
The Australian conference leaders will be without their first and second-choice five-eighths for the final six games of the campaign, with Robbie Coleman and Zack Holmes the leading contenders to fill the No. 10 jersey.
Coleman has had limited opportunities in his three games back from a groin injury, while Holmes has made just two Super Rugby appearances, both off the bench this season.