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Old but bold: happy hooker Mann-Rea joins Brumbies

New ACT Brumbies signing Josh Mann-Rea.

New ACT Brumbies signing Josh Mann-Rea. Photo: Colleen Petch

He's launching his career at an age when most are preparing to finish, but Josh Mann-Rea is comfortable taking an unfamiliar path to his Super Rugby dream.

A decade after rubbing shoulders with Matt Giteau and Mark Gerrard in the Australian under 21s, Mann-Rea will get his chance to make the ACT Brumbies his home after signing an extended player squad contract.

Mann-Rea, 31, is the oldest player in a Brumbies team of rising stars. He's older than Wallabies veteran Stephen Moore and has five months on comeback king Clyde Rathbone. But after a journey which has taken him from the coalmines in Wollongong to Japan and now to Canberra, Mann-Rea is ready to prove he belongs in Super Rugby.

The hooker admits he wasted his opportunities when he was younger and was more focused on partying than playing rugby.

It meant he was working in coalmines while watching Australian under-21s teammates Giteau, Gerrard and Mark Chisholm as well as fellow Queensland Reds Academy partner Moore rise to the top of international rugby.

''I didn't think there were many [opportunities] around so I was going to go back to the mines. But then I found out the Brumbies had an opportunity so I came down,'' Mann-Rea said.

''I didn't take my chances when I was younger, I didn't appreciate it. But to get a second shot … I'm pretty lucky, I appreciate my footy a lot more now.

''It's weird because those guys I played with [in the Australian under 21s] are finishing their careers or going overseas, but I'm doing it the other way around.''

The Canberra Times can reveal the Brumbies have filled three of their five extended player squad (EPS) spots available with Mann-Rea being joined by 22-year-old prop Ruan Smith and 27-year-old flanker Jordan Smiler.

Three of last season's five EPS members (Jesse Mogg, Scott Fardy and Scott Sio) are now in Jake White's 30-man full-time squad.

Mann-Rea replaces Anthony Hegarty - who now plays in France - and will compete with Moore and Siliva Siliva for the hooking duties.

After giving rugby away for two years in 2007, Mann-Rea returned for three seasons in Japan before answering an SOS from the NSW Waratahs this year.

With one Super Rugby cap to his name, he is hungry for more. ''This is a good opportunity for me to get into the system and see where I can go … hopefully I get to play some games and put pressure on the other hookers,'' he said. ''I just want to get the best out of my rugby that I can. It's not too hard being the old fella.''

Meanwhile, Tuggeranong Vikings hooker and MacDougall Medal winner Pat Leafa has won a spot on the Melbourne Rebels' EPS.

Leafa was a standout in the John I Dent Cup and helped the Vikings to a grand final triumph last month.

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Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
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Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
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Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
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USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
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ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
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ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
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