Matt Toomua in line for Wallabies jumper?
April 28, 2013
Matt Toomua is arguably the form fly-half in Australia © Getty Images
Matt Toomua and Quade Cooper: you'd be hard pressed finding two more contrasting five-eighths; Cooper is full of jinks and slick tricks, and he defends at fullback, while Toomua is a steady director of play who sets an aggressive pace in the defensive line.
Just ask Western Force No.10 Sam Norton-Knight, who spent more than one minute gasping for air after a Toomua tackle midway through the first half of their Super Rugby clash on Saturday night. To the casual observer it looked like your standard turnover-forcing hit. To Brumbies coach Jake White, it was a game changer. "You just had to look at a couple of Norton-Knight's last games, he stepped and scored under the posts against the Crusaders," White said. "Matt had to make sure he got Norton-Knight back deeper, which is exactly what happened after that big hit."
White is known for his preference for confrontational five-eighths who bring physicality to the role. "[White] uses his five-eighths like Butch James, who was very strong defensively and quite a big guy who took on the line well," Toomua said. And the Springboks' 2003 IRB Rugby World Cup-winning coach regards Toomua highly, saying the Brumbies have lost just one game with him in the side since White took over in 2012.
Yet a maiden Wallabies cap remains a big ask Toomua despite him, Cooper and New South Wales Waratahs pivot Bernard Foley being the standout Australian five-eighths over the past month; all three were excluded from Robbie Deans' recent 30-man Wallabies logistics camp to prepare for the British and Irish Lions in June.
However, with Melbourne Rebels playmaker James O'Connor the only player at that camp currently playing at No.10, Deans may look to take another onboard.
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Toomua, who also had a hand in several tries during his side's 41-7 thumping of the Force, to earn the Man-of-the-Match award, is " trying to not get too carried away," despite talk that he is a contender to make the Wallabies squad to play the British & Irish Lions. "I just want to string some games together for the Brumbies and work on areas of my game."
Toomua will get his biggest chance yet to impress Deans next Sunday, when the world's best five-eighth, Dan Carter, is expected to return to the starting line-up for the Crusaders against the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium. "It's exciting to be playing against a bloke who has done such amazing things," Toomua said. "His poise under pressure is the main thing that sticks out. He by no means has a weakness."
The Brumbies impressed in dismantling Western Force (video available only in Australia)