Former Wallabies star Joseph Tomane has returned to his grassroots after signing on with Souths Logan Magpies for the remainder of the 2023 Hostplus Cup season.
Tomane – who played NRL with the Melbourne Storm and Gold Coast Titans before making a code switch to union in 2012 – played his first game under Souths Logan coach Karmichael Hunt in Activate! Queensland Country Week in Proserpine.
He returned to rugby league at the end of June, after reaching out to Hunt to express an interest in getting back to the game where it all started for him.
Hunt – who also played NRL and rugby union at the highest levels – understood exactly where Tomane was coming from.
“I just had a phone call with him and he wanted to come back and get back involved in rugby league, having come from rugby league originally,” Hunt said.
“I come from a similar pathway and I understood where he was coming from and I could hear that when he was talking to me. It’s coming back to league to give back to the game.
“There was a lot of natural synergies there as well, with him being an ex-Marsden (State High School) boy.”
Tomane, who grew up in Crestmead, crossed paths with Hunt over their careers, particularly in rugby union.
Hunt said he was able to get to know the now 33-year-old over his time and knows what a good person he is.
When Hunt and Souths Logan CEO Steven Bretherton met with Tomane ahead of signing him, Bretherton came away thoroughly impressed and Hunt was not surprised.
“He’s had a great career,” Hunt said of Tomane.
“Bretho and I met up with him and had a good chat and we couldn’t let the opportunity pass by and we’re excited to have him on board.
“I’m very aware of his ability and the type of player and person he is. It’s funny, Bretho had never met him before and the minute we walked away, he said what a good guy he is and that we have to get him on board.
“He’s a lovely man still driven to play football and what I’ve known of Joe in the past is exactly who he is today.”
Tomane isn’t the only former NRL name that has signed with a club in recent weeks.
Souths Logan have also added assistant coach and former New Zealand international Issac Luke plus former NRL half Albert Kelly to their roster while Gerard Beale has joined Wynnum Manly.
Kyle Feldt also played with the Townsville Blackhawks in Round 16 while Josh Kerr played with the Redcliffe Dolphins in Round 18.
Hunt said seeing the calibre of players who come back to this level and share their knowledge and experience was priceless.
With a number of young players amongst the Magpies squad, Tomane’s presence alongside Luke and Kelly will give the team a lot.
'It's a wonderful initiative': Activate! Queensland Country Week in Proserpine
“Definitely a big portion of it is to give back to the game you grew up playing and the game that gave you your professional start,” Hunt said.
“Coming back and playing NRL is one way to do it but to play for his local footy team is essentially as pure as you can get coming back from having an international career.
“He obviously brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that a lot of guys probably haven’t experienced.
“For him to bring that knowledge, to work and to earn a spot, that’s the main thing I want to see and he understands that as well.
“We’re travelling really well, we have a really good group of players who have earnt the right to be where they are, so this is a really natural fit for Joe.
“He’s earnt everything and he just wants to show up, work hard, get to know the group. That’s my expectation of Joe and his expectation of himself.”