Matt To'ouma excited about new role, emerging depth ahead of Bledisloe series

Tue, 03/08/2021, 06:15 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Wallabies prop James Slipper and back Matt To'omua spoke to media from Tauranga in New Zealand.

Veteran Wallaby Matt To'omua is excited about the young stars stepping up in the Wallabies side as they prepare to take on the All Blacks on August 7 at Eden Park.

The series win over France seemed to represent a coming of age for the next generation of Wallabies, led by flyhalf Noah Lolesio.

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In the case of Lolesio, the young Brumby stepped up after his rocky international debut in 2020, playing every minute across the rapid-fire series.

This saw To'omua move from flyhalf to inside centre for the first two games before shifting to the bench for the decider.

It replicates a similar move the Rebel made at clubland, allowing another young half in Carter Gordon to flourish in his debut Super Rugby season.

The 31-year-old told reporters he has enjoyed the change in positions and responsibility as he allows Lolesio to take control of the side in James O'Connor's (groin) absence.

“It’s been good playing for Noah,” To’omua said on Tuesday.

“We’ve seen him develop across those three Tests and I think he did really well to close out those games we won. In the first and third Tests, he was crucial to that scoreline.

“Being at 12, you have a different role, maybe a bit more the bridesmaids so you’re just helping out and giving direction and showing space.

“I enjoy that role and playing either 10 or 12 so I don’t really mind. I had limited preparation so I was just happy to get out there and represent my country again."

The Wallabies welcomed a host of debutants and first-time starts during the thrilling series win over France.

This saw the likes of Lolesio, Tate McDermott and Darcy Swain amongst others flourish into starting-calibre players for Dave Rennie, which excites To'omua.

“I think it’s not spoken about enough (the depth in the Wallabies). If you look at the guys on the sidelines or injured, there was a lot of inexperience out there in terms of our backline,” he believes.

“To get a result was very pleasing and those results live in the memory bank and allow belief later on in certain tournaments and games that we can do it with certain guys in the position.

“(It’s) huge for us, we debuted a couple and a few first-time starts there. Noah’s a probably good example of that, he played all 80 minutes of the three Tests and was the highest point-scorer and very pivotal in terms of us getting the win.”

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Whilst the lead-up of last month's series focused on the future, this year's Bledisloe series has seen the return of Quade Cooper to the Wallabies fold, albeit in a training member capacity.

With Cooper unlikely to play any part in the Bledisloe and The Rugby Championship, To'omua admits his presence and vision has been invaluable for their development.

“Quade's ability to see space, I think everyone here would agree, is the best in the world on his day,” To’omua added.

“He’s definitely in-form at training and he sees and reads the game, it’s been great for myself, Noah (Lolesio) and Hunter (Paisami) to see what he’s thinking.

“He understands it really well if you bunch tight where the seams at. He often gets labelled as someone who's really off the cuff or doesn’t know what he’s doing but he’s got a really good grasp of space and the influences certain players have.”

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