There was no missing Oliver Toma during his debut for the Tumut Bulls against Ag College on Saturday, with the man-mountain slotting nicely in the forward pack
The 19-year-old, who only arrived in Australia on the Monday prior to Saturday’s win over Aggies, played well, with his performance highlighted by strong carries and good defence.
Most importantly, Toma offered some much-needed nouse around set pieces, communicating well in the lineout, whilst adding size and strength to the Red and Blacks already strong forward pack.
Toma, who has a well-credentialed junior rugby resume, was lured to the club by coach Ray Wells, after the pair won a premiership together with Taupo Rugby and Sports Club in 2019.
“He (Wells) coached me back in 2019 when I was part of Taupo Sports – that was when we went through undefeated and won the championships,” Toma said.
“After that, I played for Taupo Marists, and last year I was with the Chiefs under 20s and Waikato development, and I rose up through the ranks there.
“I left Waikato and went back to Taupo and Ray messaged me a few months ago and asked me if I was interested in coming to Australia to play with the Bulls.”
The Kiwi said a chance to play rugby and find work in Australia was his biggest motivation in coming to Tumut, where it already felt like home.
“I wanted a fresh start, some work and to play some rugby,” Toma said.
“It’s nice here with really similar people, and Tumut is really similar to Taupo and it has been easy to fit in.”
Toma was thrown in the deep end on Saturday, starting in the side after only two training sessions, and he commented on his first game of rugby in Australia.
“It was really dirty, a real dog fight and really scrappy,” Toma said.
“I feel like the ref wasn’t too much in our favour and more towards Aggies, but we can’t do too much about that, but the boys really dug in and stuck it to them and we came away victorious.”
The towering second rower wants to make the Bulls a better team, and is bringing a fresh mindset to the club.
“I want to bring a bit more professionalism, making sure everyone is serious about footy,” Toma said.
“I want to make the top four and make sure we are contenders.”
Wells was impressed by Toma’s debut, suggesting he added some class to set pieces and extra power to the scrum.
“I thought it was a really good first game, he wasn’t out of depth and he did his job,” Wells said.
“Ollie had a strong game, he was good in the lineouts, he can read plays and he communicated well and now we have some power in that second row in the scrum.
“Around the paddock he was strong with his hit ups and he got past the advantage line, and that’s all we can ask for right now.”
Toma will be in action for the Bulls again tomorrow when they make the trip to Albury to take on the Steamers in round 5.