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'I wouldn't trade him for anyone' - Larkam stoked with Brumbies convert

By AAP
Corey Toole of ACT Brumbies runs the ball during the Super Rugby match between the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies at Allianz Stadium on February 24, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

High praise is continuing to roll in for excitement machine Corey Toole, with Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham declaring he wouldn’t trade his winger for any player in the world.

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Fresh from his Super Rugby Pacific try-scoring debut against the NSW Waratahs last weekend, Toole and his Brumbies have the daunting task of tackling the Blues at Super Round on Sunday.

The Blues could hardly have been more impressive first up, dismantling the Highlanders 60-20 in laying down an early marker for the rest of the competition.

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But it’s 22-year-old rugby sevens convert Toole who’s the talk of the Brumbies, Larkham suggesting the small-framed winger showed you don’t need to be a hulk to star in that position.

“I don’t think I know his height or his weight – but I know he’s damn quick,” he said.

“That counts for a lot – he’s tough, he’s strong and he’s quick, and he fits into our system really well.

“I wouldn’t trade him for anyone.”

Fellow Brumby Tom Wright, whose shift to fullback to cover the departure of Tom Banks opened up a wing for Toole, said he was enjoying learning to play with his new teammate.

“We all saw what Tooley can do, that will probably be a recurring theme throughout the season, him going across the try line,” he said.

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“He’s pretty fast, that’s the big one, but he’s incredibly strong. His communication is growing every training session … he’s only going to keep getting better and better.

“I’m trying to grow my own game, learn things and try to bring a little bit of ball-playing … playing through the centre part of the field excites me.”

But the Brumbies will learn plenty from their Blues test, heading in as a big underdogs with the New Zealand-based teams already expected to show their dominance against Australian foes.

Larkham has opted to again bench Wallabies halves Noah Lolesio and Nic White in favour of Ryan Lonergan and Jack Debreczeni, citing the need for their leadership in the game’s latter stages.

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Prop James Slipper has been rec alled to the run-on side after coming off the bench against the Waratahs.

Wright said the similar style of game played by the Blues would challenge his side.

“We were able to exploit a couple of one-on-one matchups, and that’s what the Blues’ game is built around,” he said.

“There’ll be a definite clash of styles there … we’ve got some X-factor with Tooley, Lenny (Len Ikitau) and Bobby’s (Rob Valetini) now up there in the top three ball-carriers in the world.

“It’s gonna be a matchup of who can handle the opposition when they’ve got the ball and who can turn pressure into points.”

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