Hewat tipped for ACT return
Super 14 Rugby Union at Aussie Stadium, Sydney. Waratahs V Highlanders. Image shows Waratahs Peter Hewat in for a try during the second half which brought the score to Waratahs 25 and Highlanders 26. Fairfax. 21 April 2007. Photo by Simon Alekna. 64141 Photo: Simon Alekna
Someone will be making a Super Rugby comeback five seasons after leaving the competition, but it won't be Wallabies great Stephen Larkham making a surprise appearance in the coming weeks.
The ACT Brumbies are on the verge of signing former NSW Waratahs point-scoring ace Peter Hewat to add experience to their back line for the remainder of the season.
The Canberra Times understands Hewat has agreed to join the Brumbies after Christian Lealiifano suffered a season-ending broken ankle last weekend.
However, the move is subject to a clearance from Hewat's Japanese club Suntory, approval from the ARU and whether the Brumbies can secure insurance for his stint in Canberra.
Hewat is 34 years old and despite playing just three seasons of Super Rugby, he is the second highest point-scorer in Waratahs history.
He was also the leading point-scorer in his debut season in 2005.
He left Australian rugby in 2007 to play in Europe before joining former Brumbies and Wallabies coach Eddie Jones at Suntory.
Brumbies coach Jake White told The Canberra Times on Wednesday he was considering luring Larkham out of retirement to fill the hole left by injured duo Lealiifano and Matt Toomua.
But Larkham backed Zack Holmes and Robbie Coleman to capably handle the playmaking duties and said he was not contemplating a comeback. It is understood White spoke with Hewat yesterday morning about joining his team.
Hewat emerged as the most likely recruit because he had played under Jones and White believes Suntory's style is similar to the way his team is playing.
Hewat began his career as a winger and fullback, but developed into a flyhalf while in Japan.
White is confident in his young flyhalves, but he also wants to add experience and depth to his roster with the Brumbies in a position to make the finals for the first time since 2004.
Hewat would add just that with three seasons of Super Rugby under his belt and stints with London Irish and Suntory. His goalkicking ability will also help ease the pain of losing Lealiifano, who was the team's first-choice kicker.
The Brumbies will return to training on Sunday after being given the past week off to rejuvenate.
They sit comfortably at the top of the Australian conference and will take on the Wellington Hurricanes in New Zealand next Friday night.
Should Hewat join the squad, he is still not guaranteed a spot in the Brumbies' starting XV.
Holmes and Coleman have both had stints at flyhalf in pre-season training and during the Super Rugby campaign.
Scrumhalf Nic White backed either to continue the Brumbies' impressive resurgence.
While Jake White had floated the idea of getting Larkham back on the field, Nic White said the World Cup-winning flyhalf would help accelerate the back line's development from the sideline.
''There's no hiding it that losing Christian is going to hurt us and what happens from now on will be interesting,'' Nic White said. ''Zack and Robbie both bring their strengths, they both play quite flat and like to take on the line so it's not like they're learning new plays, they'll know exactly what we want to do.
''Bernie [Larkham] has had such an impact on our back line this year and he's taking so many steps forward as our backs coach so I don't know if he would want to step away from that.
''He's known as one of the great flyhalves of all time but he's quickly becoming one of the best backs coaches around as well.''