‘He’s starting to get used to the Leinster way’ – Joe Tomane finding his feet

A SEVERE HAMSTRING injury only a few months into his time with the province seemed far from ideal but Leinster are hopeful that the fit-again Joe Tomane is now starting to truly settle in after upping his fitness levels.

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The 29-year-old delivered a polished showing in last weekend’s draw with Benetton at the RDS, tackling strongly, passing accurately, carrying powerfully and very nearly teeing up Luke McGrath for a try with a clever chip kick infield off the right touchline.

Tomane after Leinster’s draw with Benetton. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Tomane has been the subject of criticism from a cohort of Leinster fans since his arrival from Montpellier last summer, but his outing last weekend was more of the quality those people would have expected from a 17-times capped Australia international.

Tomane’s eagerness to impress at Leinster hasn’t ever been in doubt, given that he actively strived to join the province.

In what was just his second appearance since recovering from hamstring surgery in November, Tomane looked far sharper against Benetton.

Leinster assistant coach Felipe Contepomi is hopeful that being out of action for some months has resulted in Tomane being able to adapt to the demands at Leinster. 

“He’s been unlucky with the injury but that also gave him some time to get, fitness-wise, to the level of requirements that we’re more comfortable playing in, with high intensity,” says Contepomi.

“He’s now starting to get used to the Leinster way of playing rugby that is probably different, not better or worse, but different to what he was playing maybe in the last two years.

“He has had to get used to it. It’s quick, a dynamic way of playing. He needs to understand whom he plays with and sometimes that cohesion takes time. But he’s working hard and, as a coach, that’s what you ask of players. Hopefully, he’s adapting well to our way of playing.”

Tomane high fives some fans at an open training session. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

While Robbie Henshaw’s return to fitness alleviates some of the pressure on Leinster’s midfield, Rory O’Loughlin is rehabbing a hamstring issue and it seems likely that Tomane will feature again in this season’s run-in.

Leinster have predominantly used him as a midfielder so far, although Tomane also provides wing cover – having initially made his name out wide for the Brumbies and the Wallabies.

Tomane signed for Leinster on a two-year contract and he could prove to be an important figure during the World Cup early next season, when Leinster will be missing a raft of Ireland internationals. 

Having played Test rugby and starring for the Brumbies and Montpellier, Tomane offers strong experience.

“You don’t see the talking in training and meetings that he’s doing. He has been around a long time,” says Leinster scrum-half Jamison Gibson Park.

“He gives us a lot and it’s going to be nice to see him hopefully string a few games together, get a bit of time out in the middle. I felt he went pretty well in his last couple of games and certainly at the weekend, he was better again, but he brings a lot.

“He’s a physical midfielder and if you want to take the direct route, he’s a good man to have out there.”

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