Former Aussie Sevens player Tom Cusack has been biding his time for a chance at the Brumbies, and it’s a wait he’s grateful to have had.
Cusack signed with the Canberra side ahead of the 2017 season, coming off the Rio Olympics, and admitted he had work to do in the transition to XVs.
He had an injury setback early but has shown strong form in the John I Dent Cup and now Cusack said he felt ready for his debut, and clearly Stephen Larkham agrees, naming in his 23 to face the Rebels.
“I would've been thrown in the deep end if I was to play in round one or round two, would've been a massive shock to myself and I put my hand up straight away and say that,” he said.
“The time has come and management feel the time is right and I feel that I'm in a position to put my hand up and showcase some skills which hopefully the team will benefit from.”
Cusack has had to bulk up in the months since his move, a body change he says he had to balance with the athleticism required in Sevens.
“It was trying to maintain the mobility and also the fitness side of things, which I pride my game on, being a backrower,” he said.
“It was just adapting a strength program, trying to put on a bit more size and being a bit more dominant through contact whilst also maintaining those skillsets.”
The 24-year-old’s inclusion in the 23 is a big endorsement from Larkham, who was quick to stress the competition of their backrow.
“He's (Cusack) got a lot of fitness, his game awareness, he understands the game exceptionally well and very skillful player,” he said.
“For a forward, he could easily cover the backline, a number of positions in the backline and he’s very tough through contact as well.
“He's in the 23 and there's a lot of competition in the backrow at the moment in this team to get into the 23 and he's in that 23 because he has the right skillset and he's playing good football.”
Larkham said his side would be looking to show off the attack that blew away the Reds last weekend, but were wary of a Rebels outfit that looks to have turned somewhat of a corner.
“We're certainly conscious of the fact that they've played some really good games this year and probably started the season slowly and they were probably quite embarrassed by some of those results,” he said.
“But they're a better team than that on paper and I think they've shown that over the last couple of weeks.
“The challenge for us is to make sure that we don't get carried away with that momentum.”
The Rebels host the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.