It’s been a crazy year for Corey Toole.
In the space of eight months, the University of Canberra Elite Athlete has started playing Rugby Sevens, debuted for Australia, travelled the world playing, and has now been selected for the Commonwealth Games to don the green and gold in the Men’s Rugby Sevens squad later this month.
“It’s all pretty unreal,” Toole admits.
“I only got called into the Australian training squad late last November, so it’s been a hectic eight months.”
The 22-year-old has certainly hit the ground running. From trialling late last year, to getting selected for the World Series, he is now one of 12 debutants in the 13-man squad ready to take on the best in the Commonwealth.
While Toole has been playing rugby’s traditional format of 15s since he was a teenager, the winger explained that the chance to progress to that higher level in Sevens was something he couldn’t ignore.
“After the Olympics, a few of the boys left and that gave me an opportunity to go over to Dubai and play the circuit over there,” he says.
“From there I moved to Sydney and have been playing ever since.
“I’m so grateful to be picked for the Commonwealth Games.”
Toole has played 45 matches for Australia, and is already the second leading try scorer, on 38.
Dubbed the man with the mullet, Toole made headlines for a speedy 130-metre try against Canada where he reached a top speed of 9.89 metres per second.
“Speed definitely comes in handy. There’s a lot more open space, and a few less bodies out there to dodge, so it helps me a little bit.
“The team has been going really well, and it’s enabled me to score tries. It’s a team effort.”
He’s been rewarded not only in the Sevens space, but in 15s as well, earning a playing contract with the Brumbies, which will see the winger in Super Rugby for the next two seasons.
Toole began his rugby career in 15s, moving from Wagga to Canberra in 2019 to pursue his tertiary education at the University of Canberra and his sporting career with the Brumbies.
“Picking the University of Canberra was a great opportunity to be part of the Brumbies Academy while also being able to do my Exercise Physiology degree,” he says.
“They’re both things I am really interested in. Being able to play footy and go to university, convinced me that Canberra was the right option.”
Balancing both, made possible through the University of Canberra Elite Athlete Program.
“If I ever need time off or some extensions, they’re always there to help and they’re always looking after me which has been good, makes it all a lot easier,” he says.
On track to complete his degree by the end of the year, Toole is grateful for the flexibility on offer at UC, allowing him to juggle all his passions.
“I can’t do as much study as I have in previous years which is fine. I’ve completed most of my degree I just need to finish off a few units.”
But for now, the focus remains firmly on Birmingham. The team is spending the week in Mudgee, New South Wales for a training camp, before heading over to England.
“We’re going to Mudgee because all the grounds are closed in Sydney, we’ve been training on astro-turf for the past week,” Corey says.
“It’s cold but the grounds are open so we’ll take it. That should help us with our preparation.”
Rugby Sevens is being held from 29 – 31 July. The Commonwealth Games run until 8 August 2022.
Words by Aggie Bradshaw, photos: supplied.