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Matt Toomua turns back on Wallabies and fully commits to Leicester

Published 21/10/2016

Matt Toomua hopes to immerse himself at Leicester
Matt Toomua hopes to immerse himself at Leicester

Matt Toomua admits the appeal of immersing himself in the history of Leicester could lead to an indefinite spell in the midlands.

The respected Australia playmaker continues the recent trend of southern hemisphere players migrating to the Aviva Premiership while still in their prime having agreed a three-year contract with the Tigers.

Moving to Welford Road has cast the 26-year-old into international exile as his total of 33 caps falls short of the 60 needed to be eligible for Wallabies selection if based overseas.

A spear tackle that was punished by a yellow card in last Friday's rout by Glasgow may have launched his Leicester career in inauspicious fashion, but Toomua is determined to weave himself into the fabric of the club.

"I wanted to come here with both feet in one camp," said Toomua, who starts Sunday's Champions Cup match against Racing Metro.

"I didn't want to come here thinking: 'If this doesn't work out I'll go home'. I haven't made any promises to anyone back home that I will be coming back.

"I want to give this a real good crack. If I love it here I might stay for ages. If I feel the need to go back home, I will.

"It has been tough watching the Wallabies and wanting to be a part of it, but I'm well immersed into something else now and on my own journey. You live with it.

"There are many things that motivate you to play sport. You can play at the highest level, at World Cups, but I enjoy the club deal.

"I enjoy the fact that this club has been here since 1880 and all the history around it. I find that a challenge in itself.

"You go to the club and you see Leicester Tigers guys who passed away in the First World War. That's pretty amazing in terms of the history.

"I come from the Brumbies who were established in 1996 and that is a little bit different.

"It's not the traditional route - I'll be the first to admit that - but I'd like to have a crack at it and hopefully it will go alright."

Toomua was pounced upon by incensed Warriors players after his tip-tackle on fly-half Fin Russell and he feared the worst when the incident replayed on the big screen at Scotstoun Stadium knowing a red card was possible.

"When I did it I didn't think it was that bad, but then I saw it and I thought I could be in some trouble. I was embarrassed about it, it's not something I'm proud of," Toomua said.

"I said sorry many times after the game and during the game. It's not something I'm proud of or condone. It wasn't my brightest moment, but it happens.

"He was at the mercy of me at the moment, I had him in the air and I failed to put him in a good position, which was poor on my part. There's no place for it in the game."

Toomua began his career as a fly-half before moving to inside centre and is able to act as a carrier or playmaker, a skill-set that he admits can leave him performing opposite roles.

"I've traditionally played 10, so I was more a playmaker. But then the way I used to play 10, I'd carry more than most 10s," he said.

"I've almost been half-pregnant in a way, neither here nor there. It is a tough one and a lot of the time it depends on the balance of your backline.

"If you've got playmakers on the wing or at full-back, you can probably have more of a running guy. There are many ways to do it."

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