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Hewat set to be short-term saviour but can't play in finals

Date

Lee Gaskin

New Brumbies recruit, former Waratahs outside back Peter Hewat, trains with the team for the first time on Sunday.

New Brumbies recruit, former Waratahs outside back Peter Hewat, trains with the team for the first time on Sunday. Photo: Graham Tidy

Peter Hewat is ready to fill the flyhalf breach for the ACT Brumbies but will be a spectator if the Australian conference leaders break their eight-year finals drought.

The former NSW Waratahs point-scoring machine arrived in Canberra on Saturday and had his first training run with the Brumbies yesterday.

The 34-year-old - the oldest player in the Brumbies squad - could be rushed into the team as early as Friday's encounter with the Wellington Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium.

New Brumbies recruit Peter Hewat trains with the team for the first time on Sunday.

New Brumbies recruit Peter Hewat trains with the team for the first time on Sunday. Photo: Graham Tidy

Hewat will only be available for the rest of the regular season under regulations from Super Rugby's governing body - South Africa, New Zealand and Australian Rugby.

SANZAR rules require a player to be signed, or be eligible to be signed, before April 1 and then play four games to be allowed to qualify for the finals.

Hewat secured a short-term release from his contract with Japanese club Suntory last week, but could find himself in the key playmaking role against the imposing Hurricanes in four days' time.

''If I was picked I suppose I could play, definitely,'' Hewat said after his first training with the team.

''We only finished training in Japan about a month ago. You have to keep training while you're away, so the only thing is coming up to speed with what they're doing at the Brumbies.''

Brumbies coach Jake White enquired about Hewat's availability after Christian Lealiifano became the club's second No.10 to succumb to a season-ending injury. White had suggested Wallabies great Stephen Larkham could come out of retirement to fill the void left by Lealiifano and Matt Toomua, but the 37-year-old Brumbies assistant coach declined.

Youngsters Robbie Coleman and Zack Holmes, both 21, are the Brumbies' other options at flyhalf.

Hewat has enjoyed a well-travelled career since breaking into the Waratahs as a 27-year-old in 2005.

As a fullback or winger, he amassed more than 300 points to become the second-highest point scorer in NSW history before leaving for England at the end of 2007.

He spent three years with London Irish in the English Premiership before playing the past two seasons as a flyhalf with Suntory, which has former Brumbies mentor Eddie Jones at the helm.

''I'm fortunate that Eddie and Jake are quite close and their playing styles are reasonably similar,'' Hewat said.

''Hopefully it won't take too long to get used to the Brumbies, after working out the names.''

Apart from centres Pat McCabe and Andrew Smith, who he played with at the Central Coast Rays, Hewat is meeting most of his new teammates for the first time.

He is hoping his 50 games of Super Rugby experience - the most of any of the Brumbies back line - can play a role in helping the club reach the finals for the first time since 2004.

''It's exciting times to be involved,'' he said.

''It's about giving those guys a bit of leadership and letting them run free like they've been doing.

''They don't need me to come in and change anything.''

FRIDAY

Super Rugby Round 13: Wellington Hurricanes v ACT Brumbies at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 5.35pm.

TV Time: Live on Fox Sports 3.

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