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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.''

ACT BRUMBIES v ACT XV

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).

Super Rugby 2015

Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Report Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46 vs REB 29 Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Stats
CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 34 vs BUL 20 Report Stats
RED 14 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 5 vs HUR 29 Report Stats
WAR 32 vs CRU 22 Report Stats
FOR 3 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 17 vs LIO 40 Report Stats
STO 31 vs REB 15 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 35 vs HUR 18 Report Stats
BRU 22 vs BUL 16 Report Stats
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 25 vs REB 21 Report Stats
HIG 36 vs CHF 9 Report Stats
FOR 10 vs RED 32 Report Stats
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 42 vs CHT 12 Report Stats
LIO 27 vs WAR 22 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
RED vs CHF 19:40SS
CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 19:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Super Rugby 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Hurricanes 14 12 2 0 126 57
Stormers 14 10 4 0 72 43
Waratahs 14 9 5 0 45 42
Highlanders 14 10 4 0 116 48
Brumbies 14 8 6 0 108 42
Lions 15 9 6 0 -22 40
Chiefs 14 9 5 0 60 44
Bulls 14 7 7 0 23 36
View all
 
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