The Brumbies have taken huge steps towards retaining their promising young squad with the re-signing of five players on Wednesday.
Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Ruaidhri Murphy, Scott Sio and Henry Speight all put pen to paper to stay in the Australian Capital for another two years.
Each of the players had been aggressively chased by other Australian provinces but the opportunity to play with such an exciting young team proved too attractive.
For Toomua, who has been recovering from surgery on his knee, the Brumbies has been a place he has developed his game since moving to Canberra straight out of school. Toomua was excited by the prospect of continuing his career in Canberra.
“I love Canberra, this has been my home for almost a fifth of my life now and it’s a pleasure to be staying here with the Brumbies for another two years,” Toomua said.
“Everyone at the franchise feels like we’re on the edge of something special here and with such a young squad we have a chance to build on that over the next four or five years.
“[Coach] Jake [White] has had a huge impact on the franchise and where it’s going. He and the rest of our management have worked really hard to get the rugby program back to where it should have been and I think we are only just starting to see some of the positives that will bring.
“It was disappointing to hurt myself so early in the season, but re-signing with the franchise has given me plenty of motivation to get back into training and prepare for the future.”
Other than Toomua, the other four re-signings are on tour in South Africa where they will meet the Bulls this Saturday in Pretoria and the Lions the following Friday in Johannesburg.
For backs Lealiifano, Toomua and Speight, the prospect of continuing their careers under the watchful eye of Stephen Larkham was also a huge bonus when they were offered new deals with the Brumbies.
The Brumbies’ head coach, White, said he was pleased to see Larkham’s influence rubbing off.
“To have the backline staying together is pleasing because of all the hard work Stephen has put in since the squad came together last year,” White said.
“He was part of the best backline this franchise has ever fielded so naturally our young backs have been learning plenty from Stephen this year. It’s fantastic he’s here with the Brumbies and I look forward to seeing his influence continue to guide this team in the future.”
Lealiifano is the most experienced of the five re-signings and will feature in his 50th match for the Brumbies on Saturday against the Bulls.
Murphy and Sio are quality examples of hard work paying off, with both players starting their time in Canberra under the EPS system. A huge pre-season from Murphy and a dynamic performance on debut from Sio have set both players up for big futures in the Super Rugby competition.
Speight’s commitment will see him eligible for a Wallabies jumper within 12 months having come to the Brumbies as a foreign import at the start of 2011