THEIR position on the ladder says the Queanbeyan Whites are in a dog fight simply to qualify for this year’s John I Dent Cup finals.
But there seems little doubt the return of ACT Brumbies playmaker Robbie Coleman has transformed the club from mere post-season hopefuls to genuine premiership contenders.
Coleman played his first game for Queanbeyan in nearly two years last weekend, starring in the side’s upset win over the third-placed Gungahlin Eagles.
The centre-cum-fullback scored two tries in the Whites’ 27-10 victory – Queanbeyan’s first win against a top-three side this season.
And in news to warm the hearts of Queanbeyan fans, Coleman confirmed to The Queanbeyan Age earlier this week that he would be turning out for the remainder of the club’s 2012 campaign.
“All the Brumbies contracted players are back playing club football for the rest of the year,” Coleman said. “As far as I know I’m back playing for the Whites until the end of the season.”
In a further piece of good news for the Whites, ACT Rugby has confirmed Coleman will be eligible to play finals football should Queanbeyan make it that far.
Players are normally required to have played at least six matches during the year in order to qualify for the finals – a threshold Coleman will be unable to meet.
John I Dent Cup competition rules however, provide dispensation for players who have been unavailable for club rugby owing to Super Rugby commitments.
In his first run for the side since the Whites’ 2010 grand final win against the Tuggeranong Vikings, Coleman fit seamlessly back into the Whites fold at Campese Field last Saturday.
“A lot of the Queanbeyan boys are Eddies boys and whether we were in the same year or not you still know each other from school or from Queanbeyan,” Coleman said.
“I trained a bit with [flyhalf] Sam Windsor at the Brumbies as well so it’s made it easy to fit in and learn the calls pretty much straight away.”
Swapping between inside-centre and fullback, Coleman’s two-try effort was complemented by classy performance from Windsor who bagged a personal haul of 17-points.
The 21-year-old also said he was fully recovered from the groin injury that plagued his Super Rugby campaign with the Brumbies.
The injury saw Coleman lose his grip on the Brumbies first-choice fullback role after the first round but he denied the knock had frustrated his season.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been frustrating,” he said. “Obviously missing rugby is never good but [the injury] has allowed me to focus on a few other things I needed to improve.
“I’ve been able to do a lot more balance work rather than just focusing on my strength which is going to help me with my sidestepping and my running.
“It allowed me to build my lower body back up and come back better than before so in a sense it was kind of a good thing.”
Along with Coleman, the Whites will also have Brumbies contracted centre Tevita Kuridrani on board for the club’s run to the finals.
But in a blow to the Whites, Queanbeyan’s 2010 premiership winning halfback Nic White is unlikely to re-join his former club.
“With Nic being selected with the Wallabies, it depends what happens there but I doubt he’ll be available,” Coleman said of his former halves partner. “I imagine they’ll save him for the Wallabies which is obviously unfortunate for the Whites.”