4/9/2013

Toomua set to tackle the Highlanders


University of Canberra Brumbies playmaker Matt Toomua believes he is fresh and raring to go, as the team prepares to face the winless Otago Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday night.

The match against the Highlanders is developing to be a major task for Jake White’s men, after a disappointing 28-all draw against the Southern Kings on Friday night in Canberra.

Despite the draw the Brumbies still sit at the top of the Super Rugby table along side last years champions the Chiefs, but with big games ahead in the next few weeks against the Reds and Crusaders, Friday’s match is crucial.

While the Highlanders are yet to register a victory so far this season and sit last on the Super Rugby table, they have  potential match winners in all positions and are shaping up to be a very difficult opponent.

Their back line is potentially the Brumbies biggest concern, with All Blacks Colin Slade, Ma’a Nonu and Hosea Gear itching to notch up their first win.

After being given the week off against the Kings, flyhalf Matt Toomua is confident though that the Brumbies can bounce back with a win and is looking forward to resuming his combination with Nic White and Christian Lealiifano.

“I was jumping out of my skin ready to go this morning,” Toomua said

“My body is good, i feel well and i’m raring to go.

“It’s been a good week to refresh from my point of view coming back from South Africa, so the rest came at the right time for me personally.

“I have enjoyed the first six games playing with Nic and Christian, developing a combination and hopefully a good one.”

Toomua was outstanding at flyhalf in the first six games this season for the Brumbies forming a strong partnership with Lealiifano, but admits they will both have to be on their game to take on the Highlanders.

“It will be a good test for our boys, we definitely don’t have the same amount of International players as they do, so it will be a good way to test ourselves,” Toomua said.

“It’s exciting that there 9, 10 and 12 are All Blacks and almost all of their back three are as well.

“It’s what you want in a way, Nonu is one of the better 12’s in the world and also you have Colin Slade at fly-half who is a great player and an All Black as well.”

The prospect of trying to defend against Nonu is a scary thought for Toomua but one he believes the young Brumbies back line will be able to handle to restrict the big man’s movement. 

“You look at him and he’s obviously a big guy who throws a lot of cut out passes, has good footwork and a good skills set,” Toomua said.

“If you rush up on him and make it a one on one it’s probably not what you want.

“You just have to smart about how you go against him.”

But Toomua insists that the Brumbies backs must not purely focus on Nonu’s game as the rest of the Highlanders back line are as lethal.

“There are a lot of good players in that back line, and as the old saying goes that if you focus too much on the one guy someone else will do something,” Toomua said.

“He is not the only threat, if we can work as a unit together with the likes of George Smith and Christian around me, that will go along way.”

University of Canberra Brumbies backs coach Stephen Larkham is well aware of the threat Nonu poses, having played against him on numerous occasions, but is confident that his back line will do the job against the Highlanders.

“They are a good side and you look at the games they have played, they have played some really good sides and they have only just lost everyone of those encounters,” Larkham said.

“They have definitely got a star studded back line and they use it very well, their combination of back line and forward play is quite good.

“We are really focusing on ourselves though and on getting our game in check, i guess against the Bulls and Kings we haven’t executed as well as we would of liked. So both sides have a lot to play for.”

The University of Canberra Brumbies play the Highlanders this Friday night at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin at 5.35pm AEST.