Brumbies flyhalves to recover side by side
Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua after his knee injury. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
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 recover from their season-ending injuries next year.
Lealiifano had surgery at Calvary John James Hospital in Deakin 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 Super Rugby season and 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 inked new two-year deals tying them to the Brumbies until 2014 - have walked a similar path since the pair made their debuts in 2008.
Lealiifano got the nod in the season-opener against the Canterbury Crusaders in a hostile Christchurch that year, with Toomua getting the call-up a month later for the round five encounter against the Wellington Hurricanes in Canberra.
''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.
''Personally he was there for me when I got hurt, but for the team we didn't really lose anything in terms of experience.''
Lealiifano's form at flyhalf was so strong he was in the running to be drafted into the Wallabies squad for the 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 flyhalves for the final six games of the campaign, with Robbie Coleman and Zack Holmes the leading contenders to fill the No.10 jersey.
Brumbies coach Jake White has another 10 days to decide who gets the nod before his side returns from the bye to face the Wellington Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium on May 18.
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.
The ace the Brumbies have up their sleeve is assistant coach Stephen Larkham.
Toomua said the Wallabies great had been a tremendous help to his own game and expected him to have a similar impact for whoever filled the flyhalf role.
''Bernie and I have worked multiple times a day, he's been massive,'' Toomua said.
''Robbie's proven in the last year or two that he's a quality player and Zack played in the trials.
''In terms of caps and experience it's yet to be known, but Jake has picked them because they're good players.''
Toomua was adamant the Brumbies had the depth and desire to overcome their setbacks and continue to be a competition force.
''As it is now, you don't want to be planning for next year,'' he said.
''You want the guys looking at each and every game and then it'll come naturally.
''We've done really well so far and hopefully we can keep that going.''