Jordan Jackson-Hope is one of three Canberra players picked in the Australian under-20s team. Photo: Elesa Kurtz Nick Jooste and Joe Powell are expected to be the Brumbies’ long-term halves partners. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Nanjing Night Net

Lock Tom Staniforth signed a new deal with the Brumbies this week. Photo: Rohan Thomson

ACT Brumbies rookie Jordan Jackson-Hope still has to pinch himself when he walks into the club’s change rooms just to make sure his childhood dream is actually reality.

The kid dubbed “The Future” by some of his older teammates is part of a new generation of Brumbies players that are forging a bond that is built on delivering Super Rugby success to Canberra.

Jackson-Hope is the blonde playmaker who gets likened to Justin Bieber, then there’s self-confessed mummy’s boy Tom Staniforth, wavy-haired “Grommet” Joe Powell, “Bernie Junior” Nick Jooste and potential Wallabies bolter Allan Alaalatoa.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham is prepared to throw his faith in them all to give them a taste of Super Rugby now while they’re surrounded by superstars and then take the reins in the coming years.

All are 22 or younger, and Jooste is the baby of the group at just 18 years old.

Jackson-Hope and Staniforth have been plucked from their jobs working as barmen, while Powell was a carpenter before the Brumbies came knocking.

“There’s obviously an exciting future and a lot of potential in the squad … ideally we can stay together for the next 10 years and play for this club,” Jackson-Hope said.

“I never thought I’d be in this situation, I never thought I’d be here playing for the Brumbies when I was working behind a bar earlier this year.”

Jackson-Hope took the first steps in his Super Rugby career when he set up a match-winning try with his first touch against the Melbourne Rebels.

He’s on the verge of signing an upgraded deal in Canberra after only being on training incentives this year.

Staniforth finalised a new two-year contract earlier this week, while Powell and Alaalatoa both re-signed this season.

Larkham spent the first part of the year trying to lock in players like David Pocock, Christian Lealiifano and Scott Sio.

 

But he landed three more rising stars on Friday when the Brumbies recruited Canberra junior Ryan Lonergan, Ben Hyne and Robert Valetini.

One of the biggest knocks on the Brumbies in previous years was that they were scouring player ranks around Australia to try to find recruits rather than developing their backyard youngsters.

“But [Jackson-Hope], Tommy and Joe show that there are players in Canberra that are getting opportunities,” Larkham said.

“The plan is always to have a balance between progression and established players. The pathways through the Brumbies are there at the moment and Russ [Ingram] has done a fantastic job setting it up.

“All of the junior coaches are doing a great job and we’re seeing that because the next generation of players are coming from the local competition.

“That’s what we’ve always wanted down here. To be competitive with the other Super Rugby teams we need local talent coming through.

“But we’re not in the business of giving guys a go just because they’re local. They’ve got to prove they’re up to the level, and these guys have.”

Jackson-Hope and Jooste, who has the nickname of ‘Bernie Junior’ because of his resemblance to Larkham, will play for the Australian under-20s at the junior World Cup in June.

Staniforth, Powell and Alaalatoa are all graduates of the junior Australian program and are rated as future Wallabies.

Staniforth had to wait 700 days between his first and second Brumbies games, but his patience was rewarded with a two-year contract extension.

“The Canberra connection is starting to come back into the Brumbies, which is important for the team,” Staniforth said.

“It’s something special to us because we grew up watching the heyday of the Brumbies when they were carving up the competition. It’s something that’s not spoken about, but it’s there.

“The guys we grew up watching like Stephen Larkham and George Gregan … they were once in a generation players. But the success they had is something we all want to recreate.”

Scrumhalf Powell was a paying Brumbies member for 17 years before he made his Super Rugby debut last year.

“I’ve played since Tommy since under-10s, I remember him because he was always the tallest and everyone thought he was going to make it because he was two-feet taller than anyone else,” Powell said.

“When I made the Australian under-20s is when I thought I could make a career out of rugby.

“Some of the guys call [Jackson-Hope] and Joostey ‘The Future’ because it’s exciting to know there are boys coming through in that next generation. I’d love if we can stay together, it would be amazing.”

SUPER RUGBY ROUND 14

May 28: ACT Brumbies v Japan Sunwolves at Canberra Stadium, 7.45pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.