Tomane hopes O'Connor remains in Australia
September 22, 2013
Joseph Tomane is hoping good fried James O'Connor finds a new club in Australia © Getty Images
The errant behaviour of close friend James O'Connor and an injury to Nick Cummins means three-Test Wallabies back Joseph Tomane faces the "weird" prospect of being Australia's most experienced winger against South Africa next weekend.
Tomane looms as a likely starter for the match in Cape Town, as both wingers from last week's win over Argentina are unavailable. Cummins has a broken hand, while O'Connor has been stood down indefinitely by coach Ewen McKenzie after an incident at Perth Airport.
Those circumstances have opened the door for Brumbies winger Tomane to play his first Test on foreign soil. The only other wingers in the squad are uncapped Chris Feuai-Sautia and Peter Betham.
Tomane 23, made his Test debut in the upset loss to Scotland last year and his other caps were gained in the last two matches of the recent British & Irish Lions series. Bone bruising to a shoulder made him unavailable for Australia's most recent two Tests.
Asked about the prospect of being the senior winger in the team despite having little international experience himself, Tomane said: "That would be weird, but those opportunities happen. The only thing I can do, if that opportunity does come, is embrace it and grab hold of it and do my best for my country. Nick was starting to find his groove and he was doing really well and he was running hard and then injuries happen, that just sucks. And the whole of James's situation is really sad, but it's presented an opportunity for me to represent my country."
Tomane hopes his 2007 Australian Schoolboys team-mate O'Connor, who has yet to sign for a local Super Rugby franchise for next year, doesn't end up going overseas.
"I consider him a good friend of mine and he has all my support," Tomane said. "I guess it just goes to show that there's no one player bigger than the team. There are guidelines and whether the boys like it or not we're in the public eye. We have to act respectfully and be shown as good role models, to not only young children, but young adults as well, so we've got to make sure that we're on our best behaviour 24/7.
"That's just the nature of this career, but I do hope that it gets solved quickly and hopefully for Australian rugby James doesn't leave and he's back playing where he should be. He's a super talent and he's been great for the Wallabies."