Joe Tomane reflects on journey from Gold Coast and hints his talents may just be getting warmed up

Joe Tomane reflects on journey from Gold Coast and hints his talents may just be getting warmed up

The rain was bucketing down outside Leinster’s Dublin headquarters earlier this week as Joe Tomane looked back on his journey from Australia via France to Ireland.

Not exactly the type of conditions you would imagine sitting well with a man who grew up on the sunny Gold Coast but Tomane couldn’t have looked happier as viewed the windswept landscape at UCD.

“I actually like the cold,” he smiled. “The heat is nice, the beach is nice but I don’t like sand and I don’t like sun too much. I lived in Canberra for five years and Canberra for six months of the year is minus two every morning and I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.”

Dublin has more than just the cold to offer him. Tomane left the Brumbies for Montpellier in 2016 and, while he scored one try every three games or so over a two-year period, a need for change was obvious.

The French club, though awash with Mohed Altrad’s money, was dealing with salary cap issues and a multinational squad that was out of touch with plans to cut the number of foreigners allowed under mooted federation rules.

And Tomane wasn’t happy anyway.

“I was just going through a difficult time with my injuries and stuff. When I first went to France it was after back-to-back surgeries. I did my knee, then broke my leg in the first game back. I had a couple of other niggling injuries from the surgeries and that and that’s where, I guess, I was a little bit disheartened that things weren’t going the way I thought they would.”

It wasn’t just that he wanted to leave. He knew where he wanted to go as well and instructed his agent to make contact with Leinster whose style of play he admired.

The interest was reciprocated but his problems weren’t over on arrival. Slow to start in Dublin, his hopes of picking up speed were undone by a hamstring injury in his first season, but he stayed positive, thanks to the support of everyone around him at the club.

He could yet be a key player for the province. Versatile enough to play in the centre or on the wing, he is a former Wallaby who played at the 2015 World Cup and he wouldn’t be the first import to find his straps belatedly. Isa Nacewa’s start to his time in Dublin was complicated by serious injury and a failed audition at 10 before he blossomed into one of the best southern hemisphere signings in Irish history. And Tomane is still only 29.

Felipe Contepomi, assistant coach at Leinster, spoke last April about how the Kiwi-born utility back was beginning to come to grips with the system and structures used at the club and Tomane has played four of the five games so far this season.

“I came from a different style of game in France which is a lot more attritional and slower whereas the PRO14 is probably similar to Super Rugby, which is what I was used to. But having spent two years in France it took a while to find my feet in this game style. It’s going to happen, you’ve just got to go through the growing pains.”

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