Australian Schoolboys player Tom Staniforth training with the Brumbies on Tuesday. Photo: Melissa Adams
He's just finished year 12, but some pre-season lessons with the Brumbies might keep one of Australian rugby's most exciting prospects out of the clutches of the ACT team's rivals.
Two-time Australian Schoolboys representative Tom Staniforth says an invitation to train with the Brumbies this pre-season has all but convinced him to commit his immediate future to Canberra, his home-town team.
The Canberra Grammar graduate, one of the Australian Rugby Union's ''national talent squad'', had options to study next year at Sydney University and the University of Queensland, the backyards of the NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds, but then came the perfect graduation gift.
Staniforth running through some ball drills. Photo: Melissa Adams
''The training I'm getting here is the best I've come across and I think it's the best move to stay in Canberra, for sure,'' Staniforth said.
The 18-year-old second-rower, who is 196 centimetres and 105 kilograms, is now sure to become a target of ACT clubs. He led Canberra Grammar to its first ever ACT title this year and was part of a rare victorious Australian Schoolboys team in New Zealand.
''I'm not committed to any club at the moment,'' he said. ''I'm just waiting for my dad to get back from overseas and then I'll figure out what club I play for.
''It's pretty scary actually, I don't really know what I want to do in terms of club footy. I've got a few mates at a variety of clubs and it's hard to pick one.''
Staniforth will be joined at Brumbies' pre-season training next week by MacKillop College student Andrew Robinson, who also represented Australian Schoolboys this year.
Staniforth said it had been a thrill to train with a club he had followed all his life. ''You grow up watching the greats and you always dream of playing for the Brumbies. I'd always go to home games, wishing I'd be able to play for the Brumbies one day. Coming in and training with them has been phenomenal.''
Staniforth was only nine when Brumbies second-rower Peter Kimlin graduated from Canberra Grammar.
Kimlin said there were few better prospects in Australian rugby now than Staniforth.
He also has high expectations for himself in 2013, having set his goal at a Wallabies recall. ''I've always wanted to be there since having a taste in 2009,'' Kimlin said.