Brumbies playmakers fight for spot
Matt Toomua puts in the hard yards during the Brumbies' pre-season. Photo: Graham Tidy
HE ALMOST made a Super Rugby comeback to be the ACT Brumbies five-eighth saviour but Stephen Larkham has backed the team's playmakers to end the club's finals drought next season.
The only problem is he admits the back line combinations are already giving him a headache with the start of the 2013 campaign still three months away.
Injuries forced the Brumbies to use three different flyhalves last season.
Matt Toomua started the season as the first-choice playmaker.
When he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, Christian Lealiifano stepped in as the No.10.
When Lealiifano dislocated his ankle, it was Zack Holmes who guided the team through the rest of the season.
Brumbies coach Jake White tried to coax Larkham out of retirement to boost the playmaker ranks.
But the playmaker declined and while he concedes ''someone will miss out'', Toomua, Lealiifano and Holmes will all get their chances to impress and stake their claim.
''If you put Christian at No. 10, where do you put Matt Toomua? Because Matt played exceptionally well for us,'' Larkham said.
''I liked the combination of Matt at flyhalf and Christian at inside centre, but then where do you put [Wallabies inside centre] Pat McCabe?
''It's a headache we're going to have. In a perfect world no one will be injured and someone will have to miss out between the regulars of last season. But at the moment, who knows what the back line is going to look like?''
Larkham, Holmes and prop Scott Sio were at the Lyneham Tennis Centre yesterday for the Canberra Velocity's first home round of the Asia-Pacific Tennis League.
The Brumbies will be boosted at training this week with Lealiifano, Joseph Tomane, Andrew Smith and Henry Speight set to rejoin the team.
The quartet are returning from injuries and Larkham has been using players from Canberra's first-grade competition to fill in the gaps.
Toomua (knee) and Lealiifano (ankle) were standouts at flyhalf last season. Despite missing the second half of the season, Lealiifano's form was so good he almost won Australia's player of the year award.
But in their absence, Holmes stood tall and he led the team to within one game of the finals.
The young playmaker has returned fitter and stronger for his second Super Rugby campaign and ready to take on extra responsibility.
''I feel a lot more confident in my game and have a better understanding of what I need to do and be able to drive what happens in a game and at training,'' he said.
''I think we're in a lot better position than last year … it's going to be good and we're going to have to work harder.
''We've got the versatility to cover different positions, but if you ask any of us we'll all say we want to play in the No.10 jersey.''