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Rathbone's fairytale a step closer to reality

Clyde Rathbone's comeback kicks up another gear on Friday night.

Clyde Rathbone's comeback kicks up another gear on Friday night. Photo: Getty Images

The Clyde Rathbone fairytale is on the verge of becoming reality as the returning Wallabies winger gets a perfect chance to audition for his Super Rugby comeback in Friday night's trial match.

And while Jake White is giving Rathbone an opportunity to impress in the final pre-season warm-up, the coach also revealed his interest in helping Luke Burgess resurrect his Australian rugby career by joining the ACT Brumbies.

Three years after he retired, Rathbone will edge a step closer to a remarkable comeback when he lines up against the ACT XV at Viking Park.

White has named his strongest line-up with Rathbone starting on the wing and Henry Speight - who attended a family funeral this week - being moved to the bench.

Injuries forced Rathbone into premature retirement in 2009. Hanging up the boots triggered a fall into depression and off-field struggles. He opened up about his battle with mental demons a year ago and White first approached Rathbone in January last year about making a comeback.

Despite making a stunning physical transformation, Rathbone declined at first.

But the challenge of getting back on the field led him to sign a one-year deal and the 31-year-old is on the cusp of a dream return.

He is in peak physical condition and confident he can recapture the blockbusting power which had him play 26 Tests for Australia.

Speight, Joseph Tomane and Rathbone are fighting for the two wing spots for the opening round against the Queensland Reds on February 16 and the door is ajar for Rathbone to complete his journey.

''I think [Rathbone] needs as much rugby time as he can get,'' White said. ''He's been out of the game for a while and the more time he spends on the field he will sharpen up his skills and he'll also get some confidence out of his body lasting.

''[Rathbone] is in the mix … it's wonderful for Clyde, a lot of people didn't expect him to be where he is now in terms of knocking on the door for selection in the starting line-up.

''But he's really experienced, the way he talks and communicates and gives confidence to others is something that doesn't go unnoticed.''

Star recruit David Pocock will play his first game in Canberra as a Brumby and White is expected to give his full-strength team up to 60 minutes on the field to gain momentum for the start of the season.

A year of Super Rugby experience has improved the Brumbies' depth as they seek to make the finals for the first time since 2004.

But White also has an eye on the future and has spoken with former Wallabies scrumhalf Burgess' manager about the possibility of him moving to Canberra next season. The Brumbies have three No.9s on their roster - Nic White, Ian Prior and Mark Swanepoel - but all three are off contract at the end of the season.

Burgess started his career with the Brumbies in 2005 before joining the NSW Waratahs.

The 28-year-old joined French club Toulouse after the World Cup in 2011, but is ready to return to Australia and White has expressed interest.

Nic White was on the cusp of Wallabies selection last year as Will Genia's back-up No.9 and Jake White has already had been in negotiations about extending the 22-year-old's contract.

But the potential addition of Burgess, who was in the Brumbies Academy for three years, would add depth and fierce competition at the scrumbase.

''As we speak we're negotiating who is going to be our [scrumhalf in 2014 and beyond], that's why a guy like Luke Burgess' name pops up,'' White said.

''To get a guy like Burgess to even mention he would be interested in coming back to the Brumbies is fantastic for our club because it sends the right message about our rugby program.

''We would never chase him away, he's played for the Brumbies, he's got 37 Test caps, 80 Super Rugby games and that sort of player is wonderful as part our squad.

''We'd love to engage with him about whether he's available, but at the same time we've got Nic, Ian and Mark Swanepoel.

''At the end of the day it's about finding the best players, making our squad better every year.

''I'm very excited about the fact he's thinking about coming back to Australia and that he's even considering coming to the Brumbies.''


Friday at Viking Park, 7pm. Entry is free.

Brumbies: 1. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 3. Dan Palmer, 4. Sam Carter, 5. Scott Fardy, 6. Peter Kimlin, 7. David Pocock, 8. Ben Mowen, 9. Nic White, 10. Matt Toomua, 11. Clyde Rathbone, 12. Christian Lealiifano, 13. Andrew Smith, 14. Joseph Tomane, 15. Jesse Mogg. Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Ruaidhri Murphy, Leon Power, Colby Faingaa, Ian Prior, Tevita Kuridrani, Zack Holmes, Etienne Oosthuizen, Ruan Smith, Fotu Auelua, Scott Sio, Jordan Rapana, Henry Speight, Robbie Coleman.

ACT XV: 1. Sione Taula (JP Pradaud), 2. Robbie Abel (Nick Dobson), 3. Les Makin (Ray Dobson), 4 Gareth Clouston (Rikki Waitao), 5. Tom Staniforth, 6. Jordan Smiler (Tim Donnellan), 7. Josh Hitchins (Michael Smith), 8. Tim Cree (Xavier Duffy), 9. Mark Swanepoel (Beau Mokotupu), 10. Sam Windsor (Gus McKercher), 11. Tom Cox (Tom Ruediger), 12. Rod Iona, 13.  Matt Hawke (Mitch Connolly), 14. Stefan Van Der Walt (Andrew Barrell), 15. Brendan Tueaki (Ben Johnson).

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 19vs URU 10 Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00Leicester City Stadium
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 3 3 0 0 97 13
Wales 3 3 0 0 58 13
England 3 1 2 0 1 6
Fiji 3 0 3 0 -49 0
Uruguay 2 0 2 0 -107 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 3 2 1 0 56 11
Scotland 3 2 1 0 40 10
Japan 3 2 1 0 -12 8
Samoa 3 1 2 0 -52 4
USA 2 0 2 0 -32 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 3 3 0 0 87 14
Argentina 3 2 1 0 64 10
Tonga 3 1 2 0 -22 6
Georgia 3 1 2 0 -71 4
Namibia 2 0 2 0 -58 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 84 14
France 3 3 0 0 72 14
Italy 3 1 2 0 -24 5
Romania 3 1 2 0 -59 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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