Toomua and Lealiifano up for Lions: Larkham
March 27, 2013
Matt Toomua has been one of many standout players in the Brumbies backline in 2013 © Getty Images
Granted Larkham is their backs coach at the Brumbies, but the 1999 World Cup-winning playmaker knows what it takes to compete at international level with 102 caps in the green and gold - including two against the Lions in the Wallabies' 2001 series win.
The door for the flyhalf role is ajar with wayward incumbent Kurtley Beale sent home from the Rebels tour of South Africa, an injured Berrick Barnes out for up to five weeks, Quade Cooper trying to work himself back into form and James O'Connor having played the majority of his rugby this year at fullback.
Larkham said the combination between Toomua - who played for the Wallabies in a tour match against the Cardiff Blues in 2009 - and Lealiifano had been a perfect fit for the competition-leading Brumbies this year.
Lealiifano largely now plays at No.12 while Toomua has been a standout at flyhalf for the Brumbies, though both are capable of slotting into the other's role.
"They both bring different attributes to the game ... and if the Wallabies want to take some of our game into the Lions tour, then they would be the best candidates," Larkham said.
While Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has expressed reluctance to blood debutants against the Lions, Larkham assured that both players would be up to the task.
"They are part of the leadership group and they know how to run the team around," he said. "I'm sure they would be able to step up provided they had some familiar faces around on the field."
Toomua was more reserved about the prospect on Wednesday, saying there was no reason to get carried away after five weeks of Super Rugby and almost three months out from the first Lions Test. The 23-year-old missed much of last season with a knee injury while he struggled to get consistent starting time in 2011 at the Brumbies.
"I'm lying if I say I don't want to play for the Wallabies," he said. "But I played three [Super Rugby] games last year and not many the year before and, for me personally, it's just about getting back-to-back games and trying to develop as a player."
Another Brumby banging on the door for Wallabies selection is fullback Jesse Mogg, who is equal first on the Super Rugby tryscorers board with four. Larkham, who started his career at fullback, said Mogg had matured over the past 12 months into a player capable of Test rugby.
"There's been lots of talk about Moggie, whether he's consistent enough to play for the Wallabies," Larkham said. "I'd like to think so. He's had four outstanding games for us this year."
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