Alaan Alaalatoa and Tom Staniforth have put pen to paper for their first fulltime contract, with both players committing to two seasons with the University of Canberra Brumbies on Thursday.
While hulking prop, Alaalatoa travelled with the team to Africa in search of his UC Brumbies debut, Staniforth was back in home preparing for the Junior World Cup, with both players expected to have major roles in the Australian team.
Neither Staniforth (lock) nor Alaalatoa have missed national selection at either Schoolboys or Under 20s since 2011 and after being part of the fulltime squad for 2013 a professional contract was the natural progression.
Staniforth, who made his UC Brumbies debut this year against the Reds in Brisbane, said he was pleased to tick one of his career goals off the bucket list.
“This is something I’ve been working towards for the last three or four years, so to have my name down as a full-timer with the club is both exciting and surreal,” Staniforth said.
“There are a lot of guys there who I grew up watching on the television and for the first few years I wasn’t sure whether to whack them or ask for an autograph when we were at training.
“They’ve given me a great introduction to professional rugby. Guys like Scott Fardy, Fotu and Dave Pocock have been huge in my career so far and it was always an ambition of mine to work with them on a fulltime basis.”
Like Staniforth, Alaalatoa has been biding his time at the UC Brumbies after signing an EPS deal at the end of 2013. The Newington College Old Boy arrived at the UC Brumbies as a prolific aged grade representative but now holds ambitions to make his mark with the big boppers of Super Rugby.
“Growing up in Sydney, the Brumbies were always a team I watched and admired. Some of the guys who are still here today were running around when I was a kid,” Alaalatoa said.
“To be packing down next to Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander is about as good as it gets for a young prop and I’m sure Canberra is the best place for me to improve my own game.
“I’m still only young, but certainly my ambition is to become a long-term Brumby and to hold up the scrum here for years to come.”
H/W: 198cm, 113kg
SR Debut: 2014 v Reds, Canberra
SR Caps: 1
H/W: 180cm, 122kg
DOB: 28/01/1994, Sydney