Aussie-born Ben Toolis targets win over land of his birth

Brisbane-born lock Ben Toolis may have grown up supporting the Wallabies and idolising their World Cup-winning captain John Eales but come Saturday he will be straining every sinew to record a notable second win over Australia in the space of five months.

Scotland lock Ben Toolis says the game against Australia will have 'extra spice. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Scotland lock Ben Toolis says the game against Australia will have 'extra spice. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Toolis played in the summer tour victory in Sydney and is poised to win his seventh cap with his Carluke mother Linda roaring him on from the stands.

“My parents were meant to be coming over in February but my brother’s wife is due around then so they came a bit earlier,” explained the 25-year-old. “They have seen the last two games. You know how mums can be all emotional. The fact it is the Scotland side as well, her heritage. She is extremely proud and you can tell she loves seeing me out there and it feels nice.”

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His mother may have provided the Scottish blood but it was Toolis’s dad who introduced him to rugby, regularly taking him to watch the Wallabies when they were playing in Brisbane.

Asked who his hero was in those days, the Edinburgh lock, who signed a two-year contract extension yesterday, said: “John Eales as he went to the same school as me in Brisbane [Marist College]. I met him a few times. He was a role model for me. I played second row and it was him.”

Toolis said last week that he would be channeling the Aussie-Kiwi rivalry he grew up with when he faced the All Blacks and, while this week will be different against the land of his birth, he admitted there would still be a frisson.

“It will always have extra spice because I was brought up there,” he said. “My first start in Sydney was extra special and to get a win in their backyard.”

There are some familiar faces in the Wallabies squad, including centre Samu Kerevi, who was with him at Queensaland Reds. “I always knew Samu would make it,” said Toolis. “He actually started out in the second row at age 13 but moved to the centre because he didn’t get much taller but got much bigger.

“He has a lot of speed behind him and his skills set is world class. He is a great player and is one to look for this weekend.”