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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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Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
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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
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ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
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Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
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WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
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WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
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Overall standings
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Overall standings
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