CHRIS DUTTON July 13, 2012
Fotu Auelua in action at Brumbies training yesterday. Photo: Graham Tidy
Fotu Auelua has promised to add a destructive presence to the ACT Brumbies' pack and ensure the side does not fall victim to an Auckland Blues ambush tomorrow afternoon.
Auelua has been added to the Brumbies' bench for the last round of the regular season as the team edges closer to a spot in the Super Rugby finals.
It's a massive boost for the Samoan No. 8 who feared his season and potential finals campaign was over when he injured his hamstring while playing for Wests in the John I Dent Cup last month. But an intense rehabilitation program has the 120-kilogram monster ready to return earlier than was expected.
''As soon as I did it the first words that came out were, 'This can't be it, it can't happen now','' Auelua said.
''I'm just grateful the way it's gone … I was starting to feel comfortable and confident and to have that happen during a club game was pretty unfortunate but I'm bouncing back.
''Definitely [want to add] physicality if I can and build momentum on what the team has done in the first half and hopefully I can contribute a lot more.
''Nerves are always a good thing, it keeps me on my toes.''
Brumbies coach Jake White unveiled a mini reshuffle in his team yesterday.
The return of Joseph Tomane on the wing means Jesse Mogg will move back to fullback and Robbie Coleman will start on the bench.
Auelua will be eased back in from the bench with Ita Vaea dropping out of the match-day 22-man squad.
Auelua's comeback adds muscle to the Brumbies' back row and White wanted to ensure his powerful forward was ready for finals action if the team secures its place at the top of the conference.
Tomane was having an outstanding season after switching from the NRL's Gold Coast Titans to the Brumbies and Super Rugby.
He was rewarded with a spot in the Wallabies squad before an ankle injury prematurely ended his time with the Test team.
''It's nice to have Joe back, he's made the Wallabies and he will bring that experience and energy and excitement he had being picked there,'' White said.
''I'm sure he'll be looking forward to getting back on the field … both Joe and Fotu are big, strong ball runners and offer us a bit more physicality.''