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Overfull Brumbies to rotate back line

Joe Tomane at Brumbies training on Wednesday.

Joe Tomane at Brumbies training on Wednesday. Photo: Rohan Thomson

''Rotation'' has been a cursed word for Australian cricket but the ACT Brumbies are ready to adopt a similar policy to end their Super Rugby finals drought.

Backs coach Stephen Larkham wants to utilise the growing depth in the squad and said a rotation policy was being considered to keep the players fresh and in peak condition.

The Australian cricket selectors have come under fire for rotating their best players in and out of the Test and one-day squads.

But with the Brumbies boasting almost double the experience in their back line than they had last year, Larkham said juggling players in and out of the side would be crucial to making the finals for the first time since 2004.

Veteran Clyde Rathbone has launched himself into contention for round-one selection and will battle with Joseph Tomane and Henry Speight for a spot on the wing.

Jesse Mogg and Robbie Coleman are still vying to be the No.1 fullback while Andrew Smith and Tevita Kuridrani have impressed as outside-centres.

Of the 16 back-line players in last year's squad, just eight had Super Rugby experience totalling just 138 matches. A year on and the Brumbies boast 344 caps in the backs and the battle for selection is giving Larkham a headache.

''We've got too many guys to fit into the puzzle, there will be three top-line players in the back line who will miss out [in round one] and it's going to be tough for the coaches to make those selections,'' Larkham said.

''We'll use the old adage of rotation, we'll be rotating players. But genuinely we've got depth and good talent to rotate players. That's going to become part of our game this season that the guys and the players are going to have to get used to.''

Tomane will play his first game in eight months on Friday night when the Brumbies have their final pre-season trial, against an ACT XV at Viking Park. The rugby league convert was having a sparkling debut season before back-to-back ankle injuries ruined his hopes of gaining selection for the Wallabies' end-of-year Tests.

His pre-season training has been hampered by a torn calf and a torn hamstring.

But the 22-year-old is confident his injury-interrupted build-up won't hold him back from taking on the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium on February 16.

The Brumbies' outside-back stocks have been bolstered by Rathbone's impressive return. In two pre-season appearances, Rathbone has shown he still has the form which had him earn 21 Test caps before injuries forced him into premature retirement. The 31-year-old is on the cusp of a dream return to Super Rugby for round one. But while they're battling for selection, Tomane said having Rathbone back would help him become a better player.

''[Rathbone] has been where I want to be, he's a Wallabies Test winger,'' said Tomane, who played one match for Australia last year. ''I want to achieve the feats he's achieved and learning off him is the best thing for my career right now. It's good having him around, he's pretty agile as well and he's still got the magic feet.''

FRIDAY: ACT Brumbies v ACT XV at Viking Park, 7pm. Entry free.

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