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Size isn't everything - Robbie Coleman ready to prove the doubters wrong in ACT Brumbies semi-final against NSW Waratahs

Union

ACT Brumbies winger Robbie Coleman at Brumbies HQ on Thursday.

ACT Brumbies winger Robbie Coleman at Brumbies HQ on Thursday. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Olympic Games aspirant, Commonwealth Games silver medallist, greyhound enthusiast and the only non-Wallaby in an all-star ACT Brumbies backline – Robbie Coleman is many things but the label of being too small is the one he wants to prove wrong.

That's why the Queanbeyan junior has vowed to give his all and throw himself into every contest when the Brumbies play against the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night in the biggest Australian derby in 12 years.

Four years ago Coleman was leading the Australian sevens side at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi wondering if he would ever get his chance to achieve his dream of playing for the Brumbies.

Had the Brumbies been knocked out of title contention this season, Coleman would have been in Glasgow chasing a gold medal and he has a dream to go for gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

But after an injury-riddled three years, the 23-year-old finally feels settled in Super Rugby, has enlisted Clyde Rathbone as a mentor and his blistering speed and try-scoring form has put him on the cusp of a shock Wallabies call-up.

No one has ever doubted Coleman's speed. But at 179 centimetres and 83 kilograms, it's his diminutive frame which attracts attention in a rugby world infatuated with big, bustling wingers.

"I've never felt like I'm too small or not strong enough. In my first three Super Rugby games [in 2011] I played inside centre against Tana Umaga, Sonny Bill Williams and Ma'a Nonu," Coleman said.

"I love the contact work. My strength isn't my size, it's my speed and acceleration. But I've never felt small. If you worry about it too much, it won't work out and I've never noticed it.

"But [coach Stephen Larkham] said to me at the start of the year that he doesn't care if I'm 95 kilos or 75 kilos, he just wants me to be where I'm at my strong best."

In a match boasting 22 players in the Wallabies squad, a NSW-ACT rivalry and with a grand final berth on the line, it's easy to forget about pint-sized Coleman.

Coleman was dubbed the "Prince of Queanbeyan" by former Brumbies captain Matt Giteau in his breakthrough season in 2011.

Since then the 23-year-old has struggled with injuries, including neck problems, knee troubles, groin strains and the debilitating osteitis pubis.

At times he was so frustrated that he could see his Super Rugby ambitions slipping away while the Brumbies powered on without him.

In previous years Coleman had to stretch for six hours before he played or trained just to make sure his body could cope.

But he finally feels comfortable on the field, scoring eight tries in his 14 games this season to be the Brumbies top scorer.

"The biggest thing is that the last two years I've been plagued by injuries, I wasn't playing games so people didn't understand that I was sore," Coleman said.

"Just to run fast hurt. To get up for games was a six hour stretching session, it was a nightmare. Now I feel better. I still have to put the hours into getting my body right, but I'm getting better. I've got no excuses now."

Coleman is contemplating a break from Super Rugby in 2016 to chase Olympic success with the Australian team in Rio.

The Brumbies are willing to help him on his pursuit of a dream gold medal, as long as it doesn't affect his Super Rugby duties.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said one of the toughest decisions he's made this season was having to leave Coleman out of the game-day squad for the first match of the season.

But since then the speedy winger has launched an undeniable case to be included every week.

"He's in the right frame of mind this year and he's keeping a couple of Wallabies on the bench, his form certainly warrants selection," Larkham said.

"He's different to the big, bustling wingers, but he throws his body in there. He's very competitive and aggressive on the ball. He's super quick and agile, absolutely suited to this team."

Coleman was almost called into the Wallabies camp earlier this year and Test scrumhalf Nic White insists he would be a perfect fit for international rugby.

"You could see in his eyes this pre-season that he was going to take any opportunity he got, he didn't know in what position that would be but he knew he would take it," White said.

"Clyde has a real strong confidence that Robbie can go to the next level. He's skilful, he's quick and he won't let anyone down physically [if he's picked for the Wallabies].

"There are always those doubters out there, but he's as tough as nails and I'm certainly confident when I'm inside or outside him."

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Rugby Internationals 2014

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 Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
BUL 13 vs HUR 17 Stats
HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs RED 17:35FBS
FOR vs HUR 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BLU 04:10FSS
CHF vs CRU 17:35WS
REB vs BRU 19:40AAMI
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs SHA 02:05Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs STO 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs HIG 17:35WS
BRU vs FOR 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU vs LIO 17:35QBE Stadium
RED vs WAR 19:40SS
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT vs BUL 02:05FSS
STO vs SHA 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs BLU 17:35FMG Stadium
FOR vs REB 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs LIO 14:30AMI
HIG vs WAR 17:35FBS
RED vs BRU 19:40SS
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO vs CHF 00:00DHL Newlands
CHT vs SHA 02:05FSS
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG vs HUR 17:35FBS
REB vs LIO 19:40AAMI
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU vs CHT 17:35AMI
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL vs FOR 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs CHF 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
WAR vs BRU 16:05AS
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs REB 17:35WS
RED vs LIO 20:00SS
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs CHT 14:30WS
HIG vs STO 17:35FBS
WAR vs BLU 19:40AS
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs FOR 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
BUL vs CRU 04:10Loftus Versfeld
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR vs STO 18:35WS
REB vs RED 20:40AAMI
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF vs BLU 18:35WS
BRU vs CHT 20:40GIO Stadium
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA vs CRU 01:00Growthpoint Kings Park
LIO vs BUL 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BRU 18:35EP
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HIG 18:35AMI
WAR vs STO 20:40AS
FOR vs CHT 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL vs RED 00:00Loftus Versfeld
LIO vs SHA 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs CHF 18:35AMI
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR vs WAR 15:30WS
HIG vs BLU 18:35FBS
BRU vs REB 20:40GIO Stadium
FOR vs STO 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA vs BUL 02:05Growthpoint Kings Park
CHT vs RED 04:10FSS
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF vs FOR 18:35WS
BRU vs HIG 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU vs BLU 18:35AMI
WAR vs REB 20:40ANZ
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO vs CHT 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BUL 04:10DHL Newlands
RED vs HUR 17:05SS
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG vs SHA 18:35FBS
BRU vs WAR 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs FOR 16:30EP
HUR vs CRU 18:35WS
REB vs CHF 20:40AAMI
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs STO 02:05FSS
BUL vs LIO 04:10Loftus Versfeld
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs RED 18:35AMI
REB vs BLU 20:40AAMI
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs SHA 18:35WS
FOR vs WAR 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs HIG 00:00Emirates Airlines Park
STO vs BRU 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs BUL 18:35EP
RED vs REB 20:40SS
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR vs CHF 18:35WS
WAR vs SHA 20:40AS
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO vs BRU 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
CHT vs HIG 04:10FSS
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF vs BUL 18:35Rotorua International Stadium
RED vs SHA 20:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 18:35Emirates Airlines Park
WAR vs CRU 20:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 22:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 02:05FSS
STO vs REB 04:10DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 18:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 20:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 18:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 20:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 02:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 04:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 18:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 22:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 16:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 18:35EP
RED vs CHF 20:40SS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
CHT vs WAR 00:00FSS
STO vs LIO 02:05DHL Newlands
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 18:35EP
REB vs FOR 20:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 16:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 18:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 20:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 02:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 04:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 10:00
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Rugby Internationals 2014
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Brumbies 2 1 1 0 42 6
Hurricanes 2 2 0 0 18 8
Stormers 2 2 0 0 23 8
Chiefs 2 2 0 0 7 8
Rebels 2 1 1 0 0 5
Sharks 2 1 1 0 11 6
Cheetahs 1 1 0 0 6 5
Crusaders 2 1 1 0 -4 4
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