Tomane ready to seize big chance
Brumbies player Joe Tomane could be starting against the Rebels. Photo: Jay Cronan
Joseph Tomane will use the inspiration of Clyde Rathbone's comeback to launch a mission to get his Wallabies dream on track and prove he has overcome his injury woes.
The ACT Brumbies will fly to Melbourne on Thursday in preparation for their round-two clash against the Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Tomane looms as a likely starter as coach Jake White waits to see whether Henry Speight has sufficiently recovered from a rib injury.
White is keen to stick with the same line-up for continuity and is weighing up his options after Speight was injured in the team's win against the Queensland Reds last week.
But with the bye scheduled for next week, Speight could be given extra time to overcome the pain, which would allow Tomane to join the starting XV.
If Speight is out of action, fellow Fijian Tevita Kuridrani is in line to join the bench while prop Scott Sio could be added to the travelling squad as cover for Ruaidhri Murphy.
Tomane played the last 20 minutes against the Reds after Speight and Rathbone won the wing positions for round one.
The 22-year-old made his Test debut for the Wallabies last year before he was struck down by back-to-back ankle injuries.
His pre-season was then interrupted by a torn calf and hamstring. But now fully fit, Tomane is keen to pick up where he left off.
''I know I have to be more consistent this year if I want to get to where I want to go with my achievements,'' Tomane said. ''The first focus is the Brumbies and trying to help the team and then Wallabies or whatever will follow.
''It's a level playing field for me now [with Wallabies selection]. Clyde is such a good guy to learn off, he's been there and done it all so having someone like him around is really beneficial for me.
''Rath is a role-model and I can see first hand what it takes to be a Wallabies winger.''
The Brumbies have only lost once to the Rebels in their two seasons in the competition.
But that one loss in round two of the 2011 season triggered a spiral into one of the darkest periods in the club's history.
The Rebels clinched a victory with a penalty goal after the siren and, days later, Andy Friend was sacked as Brumbies coach.
Two years later and White has rebuilt the Brumbies into a finals contender. Tomane has benefited from the South African's faith.
Tomane joined the Brumbies last year after switching from the NRL to Super Rugby.
He quickly established himself as a powerful ball runner and was rewarded with a Wallabies call-up before injuries hit.
With Rathbone returning, he will spend the season in a three-way battle with Rathbone and Speight for the starting wing positions. Jesse Mogg and Pat McCabe can also play as wingers.
''Whatever role I get given, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability and even if that means cheering [from the bench],'' Tomane said.
''I just want to win and if that means being on the bench and making an impact then I'm happy.
''I'll play in the front row if I have to, but I'm not very good at scrummaging or anything.
''Last year I wasn't as consistent as I should have been. I've been around long enough to know that's the key and that's what I want to change this year.''
Meanwhile, White is going to invest more time into Canberra's premier club rugby players by selecting a 22-man squad to train with and against the Brumbies from next month.
With no third-tier competition in Australia, White wants to improve the talent depth in the capital.
He will work with John I Dent Cup coaches to reward the in-form players with a chance to train in a Super Rugby environment on a regular basis. ''Hopefully it can be some motivation for club rugby in Canberra and it will give players a chance to impress and push their claims for contracts,'' White said.
Super Rugby, round 2: Melbourne Rebels v ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, 7.40pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.