Brumbies winger Toni Pulu thought his fresh Super Rugby start was over after just seven minutes.
The 30-year-old had come to Canberra from the Chiefs looking for somewhat of a new beginning after an injury-riddled run in Waikato.
His promise had been recognised by Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, invited into a preseason Wallabies gathering, and his trial form had been impressive.
Then, in the seventh minute of an opening round match against the Rebels, Pulu was being helped off with a facial fracture after a head clash with Rebels centre Billy Meakes.
“I thought my season was over,” he told RUGBY.com.au.
“I’ve never had a facial injury before and…the hardest thing for me was that it was my first season here with the Brumbies and I’d played seven minutes and they did so much to get me here so just not being able to pay that faith back to the club was the hardest thing for me.”
While that injury sidelined him for six weeks, Pulu has made up for that absence with a run of strong form for the Brumbies in recent weeks.
Pulu simply hopes he can be counted as a reliable member of the outfit.
“I hope I’ve done enough that I can be called a Brumby now and it was just real good to be able to play in that jersey again,” he said.
Making the decision to come to Australia ahead of the 2019 season was an easy one for Pulu, who is eligible to play for the Wallabies because of his Australian mother.
That first Wallabies gathering invitation came as a shock to him but it also lit the fire inside him to pursue his Test dream.
“It was a dream come true for me to be honest,” he said.
“I was grateful to be there mixing with some quality players. It was an experience I thought I’d never get and just to be involved was a highlight for me.
“I knew that I had to perform here at the Brumbies and to get called to that first camp, I was a bit surprised but I knew I had to try and put my foot forward and do my best.
“I was grateful for the opportunity.”
Before any World Cup dreams comes to fruition, though, Pulu has more to give back to the Brumbies.
“My first focus is here with the Brumbies and getting a championship for this club and anything else comes after then I’ll be real happy,” he said.
“I’ve stayed injury-free, that’s probably the biggest thing of my career.
“I tend to get injured in the back end of the season so I don’t get to play as much finals footy as I wanted to. I’m going into this finals series and I want to give it all I can.”
The Brumbies take on the Sharks in their Super Rugby quarter-final on Saturday June 22 at GIO Stadium, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.
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