Tiger town experience has shown me "how to win": Toomua

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Matt Toomua is feeling no ill effects from a round-trip to England in the last fortnight but he is banking on bringing home - and deploying for the Wallabies - a game management nous honed by two years in the Premiership.

With Bernard Foley benched by coach Michael Cheika, Toomua will start at centre for the Wallabies on Saturday alongside new no.10 Kurtley Beale.

The shock selections point to a new tactical approach by Cheika that will see Beale and Toomua using their strong kicking games to help build pressure on the Boks in their half.

Both Toomua and Beale debuted in Super Rugby as attacking teenagers but the pair have also shared experience in recently playing in the English Premiership, for Leicester and Wasps respectively.


It has served to be a finishing school in playmaking for the pair, with both speaking about the benefits of soaking up a new awareness of different ways to play the game - out of the hand and off the boot.

"Two years of footy up there, a different style, learning to problem solve a lot over there in different conditions against different countries, teams," Toomua said.

"I would like to think that's added a few things.

"Especially mentally - how to play a game and win a game."

Along with his staunch defence, Toomua was lauded for his game management and kicking by the Tigers faithful, and those are areas of the Wallabies' game that were substandard in two losses to New Zealand.

Since returning from England, Beale, too, has shown an ability to weigh up the run-kick-pass options wisely, from the right parts of the field. 

Toomua will also take goal kicking duties on Saturday.

It's a skill he has had the chance to improve with Leicester flyhalf George Ford often unavailable due to England duties.

"It's always something that I've loved and wanted to do more of," Toomua said.

"Injuries to the knees over the last few years haven't helped but I'm super excited by that to be honest with you."

The chance to start also excites 35 Test playmaker, whose last start came in June of 2016 against England.

Toomua said he wasn't affected by a dash back to Leicester to play in their opening round clash at the weekend, having stayed on Australian time.

"It's what you dream of, to get that opportunity in the starting XV and I have that chance this week," he said.

"I had a moment of reflection this morning and I'm happy with how it has all worked out.

"It's very much a chance for Kurtley and myself as a combination and to provide a different picture.

"We will see how it works out."

And while there will be no radical changes to the Wallabies attack, the 28-year-old said the side will "innovate" with a new combination running the show.

"We have done a really good job over the last few years of nailing the style the Wallabies want to play so when someone does come on like myself this weekend it is more of an easier transition than it would have been in the past," he said.

"There will be some stuff to work out but nothing too big or insurmountable for us.

"That's the Australian way - to be quite innovative with those sort of things.

"If we do really well it provides another option and the powers that be will choose what the go is long term."