Rugby: Tomane back from injury

By Wynne Gray, in Melbourne

NRL buddies provide the Aussies with backline strike-power against Lions.

Joseph Tomane (right) says he learned all about mental toughness from the Storm's Craig Bellamy. Photo / Getty Images
Joseph Tomane (right) says he learned all about mental toughness from the Storm's Craig Bellamy. Photo / Getty Images

They did the business at high school and the NRL and now Joseph Tomane and Israel Folau will team up for the Wallabies as some of the strike-power needed to level the series with the Lions.

While Folau made his stunning two-try debut in Brisbane last week, Tomane was getting over a broken toe. His recovery is a selection boost for the Wallabies with Digby Ioane's shoulder problem removing him from Saturday's clash in Melbourne. Both sides will be announced today.

The Wallabies are sweating on medical bulletins for Christian Leali'ifano and Adam Ashley-Cooper although both are expected to be cleared with Tomane on the left wing and Kurtley Beale at fullback.

Alterations are in the Lions pipeline too. Irish wing Tommy Bowe is fit to challenge Alex Cuthbert for his place, Dan Lydiate is nosing up on Tom Croft on the blindside and they may need a loosehead prop for the injured Alex Corbisiero.

Tomane credits Storm NRL coach Craig Bellamy and his Brumbies' boss Jake White for pushing him as a professional sportsman. Both men worked on his attitude, refusing to accept what Tomane thought was good enough.

When Tomane went to the Storm where he reunited with Folau after their Marsden State High days in Brisbane, he was a talented but raw player. The pair knew little about mental toughness until Bellamy got to work.

"I think about it every time I play or when I train about how to prepare mentally for a game," he said. "It is something I have been trying to work on and has improved since then.

"I pretty much owe it all to him [Bellamy] because if I had not got that mental toughness from my Melbourne days I don't think I would be as successful as I am now."

Some of those lessons faded when Tomane transferred to the Gold Coast Titans but they were reignited when former Wallaby five-eighths Stephen Larkham offered him a rugby lifeline with the Brumbies.

"I sort of wasted my two years there and got out of shape and moving to Canberra was a challenge to me to drop the weight I had put on," he said.

A return to his childhood sport fitted and White helped recover the wing's attitude to his work and training. He made his test debut a year ago against Scotland but injuries at the wrong time have stalled any more additions.

While Tomane has plenty of size at 1.90m and 102kg, Folau and the Lions wings George North and Cuthbert are much bigger men.

"There's three big wingers then me and Cumo [Nick Cummins]," said Tomane.

It did not faze him. He had competed against All Black Julian Savea and it was a matter of working out ways to shut down space on those men and then test them with his attack.

Tomane envies some of Folau's gifts and fears for his rivals.

"At school Izzy always had an amazing leaping ability and the amount of tries he's been able to score just from kicks in the air was freakish. That's what I remember and what I am seeing now," Tomane said. "He was humble and quiet as he is now, he hasn't changed and always puts everyone else first. It's good to see that carrying on from high school but I always expected that."

- NZ Herald

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