Thursday 23 January 2020

For the love of the game

Tomane aims to make up for lost time with Leinster

Leinster’s Joe Tomane
Leinster’s Joe Tomane

It's all about love lost and love regained for Joe Tomane.

The New Zealand-born Australia international has been a professional player since 2008, when turning out for Rugby League giants Melbourne Storm for two seasons and Gold Coast Titans for another two.

From there, Tomane was lured to the Brumbies for five seasons from 2012 to 2016 and on to Montpellier for two more.

By the time the Wallaby, capped 17 times, was halfway through his contract in France, the blight of injury had left him and Montpellier disillusioned and disinterested. There would be no new contract.

"I was just going through a difficult time with my injuries and stuff. When I first went to France, it was on back-to-back surgeries," he recalled.

"I did my knee, then broke my leg the first game back and then it took me a while to settle in to France.

"I had a couple of other niggling injuries from the surgeries and that's where I guess I was a little bit disheartened that things weren't going the way I thought they would."

Tomane was not inclined to sit and wait on his next move.

He even went as far as to reach out to his Brumbies buddy Scott Fardy and his agent to find a way to Dublin.

He was in a dark place and, rightly or wrongly, saw Leinster as the light at the end of that tunnel.

"I guess I sort of lost my love of the game and I wanted to go somewhere where I knew it could reign ite my love and passion for the game.

"I loved the way that Leinster played the game," said the 29-year-old.

"I guess I just asked my agent to speak to them, see if there was a possibility and, thank God, there was."

It is one thing to love the way Leinster play; another to play in it.

Tomane was slow in coming to terms with Leinster's quick-moving methods and underwent surgery to his hamstring around this time last year that gutted his season.

"I came from a different style of game in France, which is a lot more attritional and slower, whereas the Pro 14 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 just got to go through the growing pains."

It is approaching that time of the season when Leinster's paymasters discuss the merits of a contract extension for Tomane. There is only one way to press his case - contribute to the overall goal of the club.

"Players tend to be their harshest markers on their performance. If you are not, then really it shows that you don't care.

"I take it personal, whether I play well or not, mainly because I am letting a lot of people down if I don't play well.

"I think for me, near the back end of my career, it is about making sure I don't lose the love to learn."

Now that he has it back.

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