Hungry for tries: Wallaby winger Joe Tomane.PARIS: He’s the hard-running, frizzy-haired Wallabies winger who grew up playing alongside Israel Folau and Joseph Tomane hopes his longest injury-free Test run coincides with a try-scoring spike.
Tomane has shelved his World Cup ambitions to focus on holding his starting position three years after he quit the NRL to chase rugby glory.
The clash against France on Sunday morning will be his fifth consecutive Test and a chance to stake his claim for a long-term spot.
Few realise Tomane’s 11-game transformation from the NRL to the Wallabies was faster than his schoolboy mate Folau, who played 14 Super Rugby matches before his first Australian cap.
But while Tomane’s rise has been quick, his three tries in 13 Tests is dwarfed by Folau’s 17 in 26 Wallabies appearances.
“I saw the dread-locked French winger [Teddy Thomas] scored three tries on his debut last weekend … I’ve scored three in my three years with the Wallabies,” Tomane said.
“The main thing with me is continually improving, I’m slowly getting match fit and getting better with my skills, growing confidence as well. I’m glad I’m still here and healthy to bring whatever I can into the squad.”
The Wallabies trained in front of almost 1000 French fans at Stade Jean Moulin in Paris on Wednesday morning (Australian time).
The reception was much more welcoming than they’re expecting at Stade de France on Sunday morning, with Tomane expecting a hostile reaction on the field.
The Wallabies have an unbeaten record since Michael Cheika has taken charge, but their two wins have been narrow against the Barbarians and Wales last weekend.
They’ve put increased focus on their scrum this week in anticipation of a monster battle up front after conceding a penalty try last week.
Cheika says his players have to “learn to love scrums” and the coach even packed down at No. 8 in full-on training sessions to add extra weight to his words.
But while the scrum battle is getting the attention, Tomane’s job is to score tries.
He admits a chance to play at the World Cup was a motivating factor when he Walked away from the Gold Coast Titans at the end of 2011 to pursue his rugby dreams.
But with Henry Speight and Rob Horne pressing for Wallabies honours, Tomane has put World Cup thoughts on the backburner for now.
“The World Cup was always on my radar back then, it’s always something that I’ve wanted to be a part of,” Tomane said.
“But now I’m just taking it one week at a time. If I get the opportunity to play at a World Cup I’ll take it with both hands.
“It’s all healthy competition, we all want to play. They’re [Speight and Horne] keeping me on my toes and that’s helping me improve my game as well.”
He played junior rugby league with Israel Folau and is now forming a back three combination with the cross-code superstar and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Tomane re-signed with the Brumbies and the ARU earlier this year and says he wants to repay the faith they showed in him by recruiting him from the Queensland Cup rugby league competition.
“My main intentions were to stay in Australia, I feel like I have a lot to give to Australian rugby and the Brumbies,” Tomane said.
“They put in a lot of time and effort to me and I have to repay them for the faith they’ve showed, I feel like I’ve got a lot to achieve and goals as well.
“The Brumbies put in all the hard work and here I am. I was very fortunate to go to the Brumbies, I picked the right club to learn the game at.”
Meanwhile, hooker Josh Mann-Rea is just hopeful of getting game time after being called into the squad as cover for the hooker crisis in Australia.
Mann-Rea’s Test ambitions were almost non-existent just two months ago. But injuries have opened the door for him to impress.
“You don’t know until you get that call but I was hoping I did enough to earn a spot on this tour,” Mann-Rea said.
“All the players who haven’t played on the tour yet are pretty hungry to get a crack and show what we can do. I’m hoping [for a chance] … every time you get the opportunity to play you try to put a show on.”