Wallabies player Matt Toomua will continue to play flyhalf for the Brumbies this season despite a breakout Test season in the No.12 jumper.
Coach Stephen Larkham will resist the temptation to experiment with incumbent Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua at inside centre despite his breakthrough Wallabies season in the No.12 jumper.
Toomua proved a revelation when slotted outside five eighth Quade Cooper during the Spring Tour, making the spot his own in just four games after injury to Test and provincial teammate Christian Lealiifano left the door ajar.
Toomua provides rib-rattling defence in the challenging inside centre channel, as well as a cool head, hard running and a booming second kicking option.
The temptation to test Toomua as a playmaking foil outside Lealiifano, as he was for Cooper, will be there for Larkham in the season ahead given Lealiifano’s similar versatility.
Following a season-ending injury to Toomua in 2012, Lealiifano excelled at No.10 and was named man-of-the-match in eight of the 10 games he played that season.
However Larkham – arguably Australia’s greatest modern day flyhalf – says he has no plans to tinker with the combination that helped take the Brumbies to last year’s Super Rugby grand final, especially given that Lealiifano (ankle) will miss the first three to five matches of the season.
“It worked really well for us last year, having that combination of Matty at 10 and Christian at 12,” Larkham said.
“Christian adds a different element to our game when he plays at 12, so at this stage we’re certainly planning to keep that combination.
“But obviously injury plays a part in any campaign and we’ll make assessments as we go along.”
The first of those assessments will be figuring out who will wear the No.12 jersey in Lealiifano’s absence.
Fortunately it’s one of the Brumbies’ deepest positions, with Wallabies centre Pat McCabe, Japan international Harumichi Tatekawa, South African recruit Lionel Cronje, and Andrew Smith all pushing for first crack against the Queensland Reds on February 22.
“There’s going to be a fair bit of competition for that spot and even when (Lealiifano) comes back he’s going to have a bit of work to do before he’s guaranteed anything there,” Larkham said.