ACT Brumbies and Wallabies star Matt Toomua is moonlighting in a second job as a barista at Farmers Daughter in Civic. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Move over George Gregan, the Brumbies have a new master barista. Wallabies playmaker Matt Toomua is negotiating a new Australian Rugby Union contract, aiming for the 2015 World Cup and getting ready for the ACT’s Super Rugby season, but he’s found a new way to get paid. Toomua has been working eight-hour shifts at Farmers Daughter in Civic, brewing coffee and washing cups while the Brumbies prepare for the start of the Super Rugby season. Toomua is following in the footsteps of Gregan, whose coffee franchise GG’s is spreading nationally. More accustomed to signing autographs than time sheets, Toomua’s teammates tease him that he turns up to training on Monday with sore hamstrings and a stiff back from standing behind a coffee machine for almost 20 hours on the weekend. Toomua is registering his business name, ‘‘The Project’’, and looking for a cafe location in Belconnen to set up his first shop. To get ready he’s been testing his coffee making skills on Canberra’s unsuspecting patrons. Toomua is starting off small, but his love of coffee is driving his dream. At times, Toomua would buy kilograms of coffee to practice his barista skills at home. Drinking coffee has become a rite of passage at the Brumbies. Young gun Tom Staniforth, who is vying for a contract, was put through his initiation at the end of last year. ‘‘I was with [David Pocock, Toomua and Sam Carter], they made me drink my first ever cup of coffee. It was too bitter,’’ Staniforth said. Toomua’s shifts will be reduced when the Brumbies start the regular season on February 22.
Brumbies on the move
The Brumbies and club rugby officials will meet this week to start finalising their proposal for a team to be included in the new National Rugby Championship. The Brumbies could also have a new chief executive by the end of the week as officials finalise their selection to replace Andrew Fagan. It’s understood the Brumbies selection committee has all but decided on a successor, but negotiations are at a delicate stage and details are being kept tight. Just three weeks before the start of the season, the Brumbies have already passed their membership tally of last season, 8500. They’re aiming for 10,000 for the first time since 2005.
Abby and Zala Bishop. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Bishop chasing a French revolution
Canberra Capitals star Abby Bishop opened up on Friday about volunteering to take custody of her niece, Zala, just two days after she was born. But as well as becoming an overnight single mum, Bishop is also trying to secure a short-term contract in France. Bishop will be on the lookout for a deal as soon as the Capitals’ season finishes and Zala will be going with her. The biggest point of conjecture is whether Basketball Australia will allow Bishop to take Zala on overseas trips with the Australian Opals. In a female sport, surely BA can provide support for one of its top athletes to take Zala with her.
‘Bling’ starstruck by ‘Stanimal’
January 27, 2014
Come on ABL, lighten up. Illustration: Matt Davidson
He’s rated one of cycling’s ‘next big things’ and rose to prominence with two stage wins at the Vuelta a Espana last year. But Canberra’s Michael Matthews still gets a little starstruck around sport’s biggest hitters. The Orica-GreenEDGE rider couldn’t resist getting a picture with Stanislas Wawrinka after he beat Rafael Nadal in last week’s Australian Open final to secure his maiden Grand Slam title. It’s unclear whether ‘Stanimal’ was equally as excited about getting snapped with ‘Bling’.
ABL brings wrecking ball
Edrick Lee. Photo: Jeffrey Chan JCC
Either Australian Baseball League chief executive Peter Wermuth dislikes women’s music or he has a soft spot for the Sydney Blue Sox batters. The ABL head honcho stormed into the press box at Friday night’s preliminary final between the Canberra Cavalry and Sydney demanding that no more ‘‘girly’’ songs were played when the Blue Sox hitters made their way to the plate. For the whole season opposition teams at Narrabundah Ballpark have had walk-up songs like Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball or Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like a Woman!, helping create one of the best atmospheres in the league. But Wermuth shut it down out of concern for the Sydney team’s feelings. It meant endless repeats of The Hampsterdance or AC/DC’s Thunderstruck accompanied them to the plate for the rest of the night. Hopefully he was at least happy with Sydney’s 18-11 win. The Cavalry got some of its own back late on Saturday night however following its 4-3 win in Sydney. "Jason Sloan was like a wrecking ball!!!" the club posted on its Facebook page following the win.
‘Salt and Pepa’ on song
Edrick Lee’s breakout NRL year may have been cut short by a broken arm, but the Canberra Raiders cult figure was helped through his mind-numbing rehab by a lower profile teammate. The Indigenous flyer and prop Mark Nicholls were dubbed ‘Salt and Pepa’ by the squad after both breaking their arms in the same week midway through last year. ‘‘It was just us two in rehab,’’ Lee said. ‘‘After the game when I couldn’t put my pants on and needed to get help, I knew I was in a bad situation then.’’ Lee also reckons he’s jumping higher than ever. Fresh off an appearance with the Harlem Globetrotters, 196-centimetre Lee finished last season with nine games and seven tries – many of which were from aerial assaults. ‘‘Mainly I’m just trying to be a more powerful athlete,’’ said Lee, a former Brisbane Bullets basketball development squad player. ‘‘I was pretty much working on lower body, so that will really help me out on the field. I think through the lower body I’ve also gotten a lot faster.’’
Patty Mills. Photo: Vincent Long
See Mills thrill
The Melbourne Tigers are offering the chance to win tickets to watch Canberra product and San Antonio Spurs star Patrick Mills in action in the NBA. The prize includes four tickets to their clash with LA Lakers, four return airfares from Melbourne, five nights’ accommodation, $2000 spending money and a meet and greet with the point guard. The Tigers still have a soft spot for Mills after he played a handful of NBL games for them during the NBA lockout in 2011. You can enter here.
Collins back to reality
Meteors player Sara Hungerford is also a doctor. Photo: Karleen Minney
Belconnen running defender Nick Collins narrowly missed out on making it to the penultimate stage of new Fox reality TV show The Recruit. Collins managed to make the top 30 from the ACT/NSW and attended selection trials in Sydney last week, but didn’t get into the final squad from which 12 will be selected to be part of the show. Brisbane Lions three-time premiership player Michael Voss is the coach on the show, which has undertaken a world-wide search for players aged at least 20 who haven’t been on an AFL list and haven’t played in the SANFL, VFL or WAFL in the last two years.
Meteors in full health
The ACT Meteors start their first women’s cricket finals campaign on Wednesday, but Sara Hungerford and Rhiannon Dick have more pressing matters. Hungerford, a doctor, is about to sit her final exams to become a heart specialist. Dick, who is studying a Masters in physiotherapy, got one training session with the Meteors on Saturday before driving to Orange to start working at the hospital. But both will be free to play in the final.