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2012 v Stormers, Cape Town (Waratahs)
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Surely the most popular rugby story of 2014 was the rise of Josh ‘Bongo’ Mann-Rea – the Brumbies most popular bloke – who went from a part-timer to Wallaby within the space of two years.
Having given up on the game and begun working in the coal mines, a gold jersey had almost certainly past Mann-Rea by in 2010. But an opportunity arose in Japan, then one with the Waratahs and another with the Brumbies and before you knew it Bongo was being honored at pubs and bars from Narromine to Bronte, from Tokyo to Bruce.
Mann-Rea’s starting debut was a celebration in itself, the Brumbies smacked the Force 47-25 to charge into the 2014 Finals. He started another two games at hooker in 2014 including the Brumbies entire Finals campaign before being called into Ewan McKenzie’s Wallabies squad to contest the Rugby Championship.
Mann-Rea’s first Wallabies selection didn’t result in any minutes against the Boks in Perth. But he didn’t have to wait long for another opportunity, coming on with 20 to play against the Pumas in Argentina before making another appearance against the All Blacks.
Mann-Rea was subsequently selected on the Wallabies 2014 Spring Tour and made his final Wallabies appearance of the season against the Barbarians at Twickenham.
In 2015, Mann-Rea will be a regular in the Brumbies match-day 23. His old head and experience at training and in the heat of battle are highly valued elements of his game and he will no doubt be eyeing off a spot in the Wallabies squad for the upcoming world cup in England.