Late-blooming Sapsford eager to repay Brumbies’ faith

At 26 and without a Super Rugby start to his name, New Zealand-born center Ollie Sapsford had his work cut out to break into a Wallabies-studded ACT Brumbies back-line featuring the likes of Len Ikitau, Tom Wright and Irae Simone.

But two years and a shift to the wings later, Sapsford has cemented himself as a regular starter for the premiership-chasing Brumbies.

After a breakout 2023 season, he has been rewarded with 10 starts out of 12 in 2024 and a new contract to extend his stay in Canberra until the end of 2026.

“It’s probably just a bit of a testament to the hard work I’ve put in the last three years since coming to the club,” Sapsford said.

“I’d come here pretty green and hadn’t played any Super Rugby. I got a taste for it in my first year, and the last couple of years it’s been building on more performances, regular starts.

“So I’m super lucky to have that opportunity to stay here with the Brumbies.”

With a home quarter-final secured, Sapsford is eager to repay the Brumbies’ faith in him by helping the club to a first championship in 20 years.

The 28-year-old has been a consistent performer for the side, lending extra steel to his edge defense.

His try against the Hurricanes in round 10 was crucial in the Brumbies’ upset defeat of the then league-leaders.

Ollie Sapsford’s try was crucial to the Brumbies’ victory over the Hurricanes in round 10. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

“When you look at when I first turned up, I think my game has grown massively, in terms of adding more elements to my game, my vision… (my) kicking game has come a long way this year,” he said .

Eligible for Wallabies selection through his mother and with one Australia A cap to his name in a 27-21 loss to Tonga in July 2023, Sapsford was coy about his chances of a Test debut.

“Never say never, but I’m just working really hard to string consistent performances together and just get into the 23rd every week,” he said.

“There’s so much competition just to get on this team every week. It’s a club where you get better individually, and this team is getting better weekly.

“I just love to be out on the field.”