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'I shot my shot': Joe Tomane wasn't prepared to just wait and hope Leinster came calling

The Wallaby was intent on taking up a Leinster jersey after Montpellier sent him on his way.
Aug 9th 2018, 6:30 AM 13,020 30

THERE’S SOMETHING REFRESHINGLY different about Joe Tomane, certainly about the circumstances of his move to Leinster.

Joseph Tomane dejected after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 17-cap Wallaby, whose power can be deployed in the centre or the wing, had expected his contract in Montpellier to run its course. Until that is, he was told he ought to pack up and go. With the southern French side trying to balance Jiff quotas and the salary cap, Tomane was earmarked for departure.

“I wasn’t really supposed to be on the market. I had one year left on my contract at Montpellier,” Tomane says as he pitched up the launch of Leinster’s new jersey in Lifestyle Sports.

Where the common refrain for players on the move is so often the safe disance of ‘I leave all that to my agent‘, Tomane took a different tack. Having faced Leinster in Champions Cup action over the past two seasons, he was impressed by the close-up examination of Leo Cullen’s men and wasn’t shy about pointing his agent towards Dublin.

“I actually approached them. When I found out the news about what was happening me in France, I called my agent and asked: ‘if Leinster had any spots available next year, like, I’d really like to go there’. It sort of just grew from there.”

I knew where I wanted to be, I wanted to go to a club that had a winning culture and playing Leinster the last two years in the European Champions Cup there was, I guess, an aura about how they went about their business.”

And just in case the front door yielded no answer, Tomane sent word in the back via former Brumbies team-mate Scott Fardy.

“When I spoke to my agent, I called Scott and told him my situation and said I’d be pretty keen, if there were any spots open for me, to come over here. I think he said he’d have a word with Leo.

“I sent all sorts of people out there for me to try and make this happen. I knew where I wanted to be and I’m just grateful it worked out for me.”

I sort of just shot my shot and hoped for the best. It all seemed to work out.”

Tomane’s arrival brings a frightening extra dimension to Leinster’s back-line for a season in which they will defend Pro14 and European titles. The former rugby league prospect also comes with the added benefit of a Samoan passport and so he can avail of the Cotonou Agreement loophole in the rule that prevented Leinster from selecting more than two ‘non-European’ players in their run to the Champions Cup last season.

Rhys Ruddock, Joe Tomane and Dan Leavy Joe Tomane pictured at the launch of the 2018/19 Leinster Rugby home and alternate jersey, to join the conversation and discover the design inspiration for the jerseys, follow @lifestylesportsrugby and #LIVELEINSTER. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It’s occasions like the one Leinster fans enjoyed in San Mames and the Aviva Stadium in May that Tomane hopes to sample in these, the prime years of his career. He has impressed wherever he has played, but winners’ medals have just evaded his grasp.

“Damn yeah, that’s why I came to Leinster,” he laughs, “I lost a final with the Brumbies, lost one with Montpellier, lost a World Cup final…we got smoked by the Lions… I’m not a good omen in Australia. Hopefully, things change here. I wanted to come to a place with a winning culture.”

First and foremost upon his arrival, that culture has taken the form of the welcome wagon in the eastern province. While the experience of landing in Europe in 2016 with little French, and less help in setting himself up with simple utilities, left him a little cold, the 28-year-old speaks glowingly about ‘how professional everything is’ around Leinster’s Clonskeagh base.

Robbie Henshaw and Joe Tomane Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He’s fitting in with the squad, but his ability to play in the centre could give Cullen and Stuart Lancaster a considerable selection headache when Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw are also fit and firing.

“As long as (his jersey is) 1-23, I’m happy. I’m comfortable playing on the wing, I’m comfortable playing 12 or 13. I had a little bit of experience in high school playing full-back. I’m comfortable anywhere as long as I’m fulfilling the role that the coaches need me to fill.”

Sounds familiar. His Pacific Island heritage alongside his positional flexibility will inevitably draw comparisons with the great Isa Nacewa, Tomane knows it’s folly to try and replace the irreplaceable.

“I’m not so much looking at where I want to play. I’m more so here to fill in a role wherever I guess. I pride myself on being a versatile player, being able to play at a high level in any position they give me.

“Obviously I will definitely be putting my hand up for those big games. It’s the coach’s job to pick the best 23 to play. The only thing I can control is training well and playing well.

“Whatever role they need me to play, I’m more than happy to do it.”

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Sean Farrell

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