Robbie Coleman will line up on the wing for Queanbeyan in Saturday's John I Dent Cup grand final. Photo: Melissa Adams
He's the "Prince of Queanbeyan", but Robbie Coleman felt so bad about making a grand final cameo appearance that he almost decided not to play for his beloved Whites in the John I Dent Cup grand final on Saturday.
The ACT Brumbies winger will play just his second first grade game of the year when the Whites attempt to end the Tuggeranong Vikings' three-year reign as champions.
But Coleman was torn between making a comeback to chase a premiership with his junior club or sitting out the match to avoid forcing one of his teammates out of the starting XV.
"I don't want to just step in, but I had a chat to [coach Adam Fahey] about it all," Coleman said.
"I've been with the club since I left school; it's not like I'm just coming in this year. I grew up in Queanbeyan, I know all the players.
"No one deserves to miss out on a grand final. But I'll give it everything I've got and hopefully we can win it."
Maligi Finau is the unlucky man who will sit on the bench for the Whites with Coleman coming back into the line-up. Fahey said bringing Coleman in for Finau was the toughest decision of the season.
"But we're playing in a grand final, they don't come around that often, so if you've got someone of Robbie Coleman's calibre wanting to play, you've got to have him in the starting team," Fahey said.
Coleman and Queanbeyan captain Dan Penca are the only Whites players with grand final experience after being part of the 2010 premiership win against the Vikings.
But the young Whites, with an average age of 22 in the starting side, are confident they can be the team to stop Tuggeranong's bid for four premierships in a row for the first time in the club's history.
Coleman played junior rugby for the Whites and the club helped him launch his Super Rugby career.
Another Queanbeyan star, Matt Giteau, anointed Coleman as the Prince of Queanbeyan when the 24-year-old made his Super Rugby debut in 2011.
"The boys stir him up when he gets to training and everyone says, 'the Prince has arrived'," Penca said.
"But we've been playing with Robbie for 10 or 15 years. He's a club man, he feels for the blokes who are going to miss out because he's back. But he's Queanbeyan since he was a little boy.
"He's got that X-factor, you don't know what he's going to do. He pops up everywhere and that's going to help us out on the weekend."
While the Whites have one of the youngest rosters in the competition, the Vikings boast 11 players who have already won multiple grand finals.
Coleman's return is a massive boost after the speedy winger enjoyed the best season of his Super Rugby career.
He put almost three years of injury woes behind him to cement a spot in the Brumbies starting team, enlisting the help of veteran Clyde Rathbone as his mentor.
Coleman was also on the cusp of a shock Wallabies call-up in June, but he wasn't required by Test coach Ewen McKenzie.
The Brumbies were bundled out of Super Rugby title contention by the NSW Waratahs two weeks ago, but Coleman is aiming for a Canberra rugby title to help ease the pain.
"I suppose something I can add is a bit of experience. The young guys have done so well to get into the grand final," Coleman said.
"We were outsiders when we last played the grand final against Tuggeranong and we won on the buzzer.
"It's like a whole new year starting now with the grand final and then the [National Rugby Championships]."
JOHN I DENT CUP GRAND FINAL
Saturday: Tuggeranong Vikings v Queanbeyan Whites at Viking Park, 3.15pm. Lower grade games from 9.45am.
Tuggeranong: 1. Sione Taula, 2. Michael Henry, 3. JP Pradaud, 4. Gareth Clouston, 5. James Foster, 6. Michael Oakman-Hunt, 7. Rowan Perry, 8. Jarrad Butler, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Isaac Thompson, 11. JP Mynhardt, 12. Jake Rakic, 13. Nigel Ah Wong, 14. Jerome Niumata, 15. Brendon Taueki.
Queanbeyan: 1. Neori Nadruki, 2. Tom Dustan, 3. Les Makin, 4. Toby Wilson, 5. Tony Tarlington, 6. Cameron Stanley, 7. Dan Penca, 8. Tom Darmody, 9. Josh White, 10. Billy Chalker, 11. Robbie Coleman, 12. Keith Morgan, 13. Altus Momsen, 14. HP Momsen, 15. Brendon Spears.