ACT Brumbies hunt for a new scrumhalf rules out 43-year-old Andrew Walker's comeback

The ACT Brumbies hope to add a new scrumhalf to their roster next week and coach Stephen Larkham will contemplate throwing the last-minute recruit straight into the Super Rugby cauldron in Christchurch.

But the club's search for a replacement No. 9 has all but ended talk of 43-year-old Andrew Walker making a shock comeback, with the Brumbies prioritising a specialist scrumhalf.

The Brumbies are keen to finalise a deal with a new player in the coming days after scouring Australian rugby ranks for an experienced head to help fill the void left by Tomas Cubelli.

Argentina international Cubelli has been ruled out for at least four months after having surgery to repair the petellar tendon in his right knee.

Former Brumby and Wallaby Nic White would have been an ideal recruit, but he is unavailable because of his commitments with French club Montpellier.

Joe Powell, who was part of a wider Wallabies training group last year, is set to get first crack at the No. 9 jersey against the Canterbury Crusaders next week.

The only other scrumhalf on the Brumbies roster is 18-year-old Ryan Lonergan.

"Realistically we've got to fill [scrumhalf] position as a priority and as much as [Walker] could play No. 9, he's not a specialist No. 9," Larkham said.

"I think we'll hopefully be able to make an announcement about the halfback next week, we're getting closer to finding someone who's a nice fit for our group."

The Brumbies have been hit by serious injuries to Cubelli and winger Lausii Taliaulii, who will miss the entire season after having a knee reconstruction.

Their absence triggered talk among the Brumbies coaches about whether Walker would be able to make a Super Rugby comeback almost 10 years after his last professional game.

Dual international Walker played for the Brumbies at the Brisbane 10s last weekend and his return put him on the radar as a potential recruitment options.

Walker would have been able to fill almost any position in the back line, but it would be a major risk throwing him into a Super Rugby season even as a utility player.

The Brumbies could still invite Walker to join training at different times this year and fullback Aidan Toua said his presence added spark to the side.

"[Walker] was tremendous ... the energy he brought on to the field and his communication, you could see the excitement rise when he was on," Toua said.

"It was a key lesson for everyone to take into the season. Something I took out [of Walker playing] is that as a senior member of this team, I should be providing that energy for the guys.

"That was a big lesson of having Walks out there. It would be lovely to have him around or even just around the group and mentoring."

Toua will step up as a senior player this year despite being in just his second season at the Brumbies.

The Brumbies have lost more than 500 Super Rugby caps of experience after some of the biggest names in Australian rugby left Canberra at the end of last season.

Toua, 27, has played just 26 Super Rugby games but established himself as the Brumbies' starting fullback last year.

Larkham said he was still deciding on at least three positions in his starting XV for the trip to Christchurch to play the Crusaders in the opening round.

Rookie Wharenui Hawera appears to be the front-runner for the flyhalf duties after only earning a full-time contract two months ago.

It is hoped Allan Alaalatoa and Scott Sio will overcome niggling hamstring complaints that kept them out of the Brumbies' trial matches while Jarrad Butler has returned to training after a lower-leg problem.

"There are [some spots up for grabs], there are a couple of positions that have been heavily contested over the trial matches," Larkham said.

"There are three positions that I don't want to name that as coaches we're having quite a bit of dilemma over. We'll be looking at training effort [to determine selection]."


February 25: Canterbury Crusaders v ACT Brumbies at Christchurch, 5.35pm.

* The Brumbies will host a fan day at the University of Canberra on Saturday at 10.30am to give supporters a chance to meet the players.

The story ACT Brumbies hunt for a new scrumhalf rules out 43-year-old Andrew Walker's comeback first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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