Matt Toomua will return to Australia in a bid to gain selection for the Wallabies for this summer’s Rugby Championship before returning to Leicester Tigers for the remainder of the club’s 2018/19 campaign.
Toomua has agreed terms with Rugby Australia and the Melbourne Rebels making him eligible to play in the 2018 Rugby Championship and next year’s Rugby World Cup.
He will return to Tigers during the Rugby Championship rest periods, which coincide with rounds 1 and 4 of the Gallagher Premiership.
And, after the conclusion of the Rugby Championship, he will be available for the remainder of the Tigers 2018/19 campaign before returning to Australia at the end of the season.
Toomua, who has made 23 appearances for Tigers since joining in 2016, said the decision was made with a “heavy heart” and that he is fully committed to ending his time at Tigers on a high.
“It has been a tough couple of weeks and one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my career,” Toomua said.
“I absolutely love the club, have become close friends with all of my team-mates and want to go out in a successful way.”Matt Toomua
“The option to return to Australia was something that did exist within my contract after the 2019 season. In all honesty I thought my time in Australian rugby was finished, and I was very happy in Leicester and contributing to the club here. However the opportunity to return home to my wife and family after almost 3 years apart, and potentially play in another World Cup was too hard to ignore.”
“I am still very much a Tigers player and, if anything, being able to have this all sorted is more positive than to have a decision hanging over my head.
“I absolutely love the club, have become close friends with all of my team-mates and want to go out in a successful way.”
Toomua’s debut season with Tigers was disrupted by a knee injury, which ruled him out of almost the entire 2016/17 campaign.
However, the versatile playmaker starred in his second year at the club at centre and fly-half, resulting in him being voted the 2017/18 Supporters’ Player of the Year.
Before joining Leicester, Toomua made 33 appearances for the Wallabies and was a key figure in their run to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham.
"I feel very fortunate to have experienced the rugby culture up here. I still have plenty of work to do in the Tigers jersey but I know I’ll be returning back to Australia a better player."Matt Toomua
Alongside his desire to be closer to his international cricketer wife Elyse, Toomua says an opportunity to play in another World Cup was a major factor in his decision.
“Since being married our careers have taken us in different directions all over the globe and now, as we both get a bit older, we want to begin the next phase in our lives and spend more time together.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I first arrived in Leicester, but the level of rugby in not only the Premiership but also Europe has been great. I feel very fortunate to have experienced the rugby culture up here. I still have plenty of work to do in the Tigers jersey but I know I’ll be returning back to Australia a better player.
“Welford Road is a great place to play rugby. It is easily the best club rugby stadium I have played in and to be able to call it my home ground has been something I’ve been very proud of, especially considering the history the club has.
“There is still plenty of time left before I finish my time here and I am committed to adding to that history."