Arnold savouring every "last" in final Super Rugby season

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Rory Arnold's Super Rugby career will be over almost as quickly as it began but the Brumbies lock is savouring every experience in his final season in Canberra.

This year will ultimately be an ending  for Arnold, who is joining French Top 14 side Toulouse next season but it’s just his fifth season in Super Rugby.

A late adopter of the sport, Arnold’s journey into Super Rugby and in turn the Wallabies was a whirlwind.

His Test debut came just one year after his first Brumbies outing and though he’s been in and out of the Wallabies 23, his value at the Brumbies has continued to grow with every season.

“If i look back on it, definitely been a quick journey hasn't it?,” he said.

“Started when I was 15 and four years in professional rugby is not a massive time but I've really enjoyed Canberra and playing Super Rugby with the Brumbies and it’s something I’ll look back on when I’m finished.

Rory Arnold showed some grit in June. Photo: Getty Images“At the same time I’m getting a bit older now and I've got to make the right decisions for me and my family moving forward.”

While some departing players keep their blinkers on as they tick off their final moments at a particular team, Arnold admitted he couldn’t help but think about the significance of some of the “lasts” he will have this season.

“I have thought about that on recent trips and with certain games,” he said.

“I was thinking last week against the Stormers that this was probably one of my last games in South Africa and this weekend will almost definitely be my last game in Argentina and I've been thinking about that a bit this year.

“When I get to the back end of the season, it will be sad but I'm excited and I'm happy with the decision and just have to really enjoy this tour.”

Arnold made the call way back in December that 2019 would be his last Super Rugby season and he admitted it had been somewhat freeing heading into the season.

“Yeah it was nice to have made that decision early, not having to think about it during the year and making those decisions, it's done now,” he said.

“I really am enjoying my time in Canberra at the moment so maybe that’s reflecting on my rugby and stuff away from rugby."

That mentality is clearly paying off in what has been a career-best season so far for Arnold.

He's missed just one game this season as part of the Wallabies' World Cup rotation policy and is averaging as many minutes per game as he has in his career.

The second rower finding the try line too - this is the second straight season he has notched two tries and there are still seven regular season weeks to go.

Whether it's enough to assure him of a World Cup squad spot, he's not sure, but his approach to higher honours is simple.

"What it comes down to is playing footy that warrants selection," he said.

"All that means as a player is trying stay injury free and get as many minutes under your belt and play some good footy.

"That's all I can control and if that's good enough to get me into the squad or get on the plan to Japan then so be it."

And the best part about Arnold's form? The mammoth lock feels he has much more to give.

"I definitely feel I haven't hit my top form yet and I'm really looking forward to this next 10 weeks or however long this season's got to go and I'm really enjoying it," he said.

“All I can do is focus on playing well for the Brumbies. It is my last season of Super Rugby and I’m really wanting to play well for the team and try and do something special with this group.”

@roryarnold90 can do it all! #SuperRugby

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Arnold could be one of a number of Brumbies leaving Canberra after the 2019 season.

His second row partner Sam Carter has already confirmed a move to Ulster, while David Pocock, Christian Lealiifano, Tevita Kuridrani and Henry Speight are among the names off contract and yet to confirm their next move.

It is natural in a World Cup year that there are question marks over Test players’ futures and the attrition is often a necessary move to open the door for the next generation.

Whatever happens, some core Brumbies will not be around Super Rugby in 2020 and Arnold said there was a sense that this season could be their last as this group to really make a mark.

“Every year there's players leaving but this year it has that feel to it that there is a few more and a lot of those boys have been around the club for a few years now,” he said.

“So, it is probably the last time that a lot of us will play together so we're enjoying the moments we have together and hopefully enjoying it out on the field and if we can string a few games together and be there or thereabouts at the end, we'll just have to wait and see.”

The Brumbies take on the Jaguares at Jose Amalfino Stadium, Buenos Aires on Saturday April 27, kicking off at 6:40pm local, Sunday 7:40am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo Sports.