Trials ahead as Coleman presses for starting spot

INJURY free for the first time since 2011, Queanbeyan’s Robbie Coleman says he’s ready to challenge incumbent Jesse Mogg for the ACT Brumbies fullback role this season.

Coleman will line up in the Brumbies first trial game of the 2014 season tonight when last year’s beaten grand finalists take on the Highlanders in Queenstown.

The 23-year-old will be looking to make an impression on new coaching duo Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher in what will be the Brumbies first hit out since the departure of former coach Jake White.

Coleman has endured a series of injury setbacks since injuring his groin during the closing stages of the Brumbies 2011 season opener against the Western Force.

And the playmaker has been forced to watch on from the sidelines as Mogg – who made his Wallabies debut against the British and Irish Lions last year – has seemingly made the number 15 jersey his own.

“Ever since round one 2011 when I picked up that groin problem I’ve battled injuries and haven’t really enjoyed [my rugby] as much as I should have been,” Coleman acknowledged. “It’s been hard at times getting myself up for it.

“This is my first time injury free since then and it’s been a massive pre-season for me personally so I can’t wait to actually get back out there.

“Obviously Jesse is there at fullback but hopefully we can challenge each other and share some playing time at the back.”

In a twist of fate, it’s Mogg who has battled injury this pre-season after undergoing shoulder surgery last September while Coleman has enjoyed a pain-free build up to the Brumbies campaign. 

Mogg will miss the Brumbies clash against the Highlanders but is hopeful of returning to the field in time for the club’s second trial match against an ACT XV on February 8.

But while Mogg would appear to have first claim to the custodian’s role once the Super 15 season proper gets underway next month, Coleman isn’t backing away from the challenge of regaining his spot at the back.  

 “Fullback is a position that I really enjoy,” Coleman said. “I feel like it’s a position where I can fill a lot of different roles and obviously running the ball with a bit of space in front of me is something I enjoy.

“So hopefully I can really take my opportunity [tonight] against the Highlanders and perform.”

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