Tom Staniforth will play his first Super Rugby game in 700 days when the Brumbies play the Western Force. Photo: Rohan Thomson Tom Staniforth before his Super Rugby debut in 2014. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Staniforth playing for Canberra Grammar in 2012. Photo: Melissa Adams
Recalled ACT Brumbies second-rower Tom Staniforth says his belief and confidence never wavered in a 700 day wait between his Super Rugby debut and his next game.
But the Canberra junior admits he feels like he’s starting all over again after forcing his way on to the Brumbies bench for their clash against the Western Force on Friday night.
Staniforth played his first game for the Brumbies almost two years ago and has been fighting for his second cap since helping the team beat the Queensland Reds in 2014.
The long journey and painful waiting has done little to dampen his enthusiasm as he sets out on a mission to play as many games as he can in the final year of his contract.
“It did cross my mind whether or not I’d get another go, but I was always pretty positive with it. I had to train hard and put my best foot forward,” Staniforth said.
“I am starting again, but I feel a lot fitter, stronger and a lot more ready. Two years ago I thought I was ready but now I know that I am.
“Super Rugby can change a lot in two years. But I feel like I’ve done the work. I’m not too nervous, I’ve trained for such a long time now and played in trials. I feel ready and very, very excited to get out there.”
Staniforth is one of three changes to the Brumbies side for the round-three match in Perth.
He joins the bench, with Jarrad Butler moving into the starting side to replace Ita Vaea at No. 8 and Rory Arnold returning to lock after Blake Enever injured his shoulder.
Staniforth will also join the Brumbies on their two-game tour of South Africa, with coach Stephen Larkham to finalise the rest of his travelling party after the Force game.
Staniforth was collecting glasses in pubs around Canberra for work the last time he played for the Brumbies as a 19-year-old.
Now 21, he is nearing the end of his first professional contract and hopes to use his game time to impress and win a new deal.
The Canberra Grammar graduate has transformed his body since joining the Brumbies program on a temporary contract in 2014 before being upgraded, stacking on almost 10 kilograms since leaving school to match it with men.
The 113 kilogram second-rower helped lead Royals to a Canberra John I Dent Cup premiership and the former Australian under-20s vice-captain says his inner mongrel is driving him to perform at the top.
“[Larkham] has shown in the first couple of rounds he’s willing to give guys an opportunity and you’ve got to take that when it comes your way,” Staniforth said.
“You sort of get those debut feelings again but I’ve done all the work and I’ve had a good pre-season.
“I grew up idolising the Brumbies so to be on tour makes it very real. It’s special to me and something that I definitely don’t take for granted.
“I’m not thinking about the future at all. That’s in my manager’s hands, all I have to do is focus on playing some good footy.”
SUPER RUGBY ROUND THREE
Friday: ACT Brumbies v Western Force in Perth, 10.05pm AEDT. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 2.
Brumbies team: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Toomua, 11. Joseph Tomane, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. David Pocock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Allan Alaalatoa, 18. Les Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Jordan Smiler, 21. Michael Dowsett, 22. Andrew Smith, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.
Force team: 15. Dane Haylett-Petty, 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Junior Rasolea, 11. Semisi Masirewa, 10. Jono Lance, 9. Ian Prior, 8. Ben McCalman, 7. Matt Hodgson, 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Adam Coleman, 4. Ross Haylett-Petty, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 2. Heath Tessmann, 1. Pekahou Cowan. Reserves: 16. Nathan Charles, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Guy Millar, 19. Steve Mafi, 20. Angus Cottrell, 21. Alby Mathewson, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Marcel Brache.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.