The sheer enormity of Ayumu Goromaru’s fame is still yet to dawn on an unsuspecting Brisbane public, according to his Queensland Reds and Japan Test teammate Hendrik Tui.
Reds players, however, are slowly beginning to get the full picture of Goromaru’s “out of this world” fame following the Super Rugby franchise’s fan day at Ballymore on Sunday.
Tui summed it up best, telling AAP: “It’s supposed to be the Reds fan day but it should be called Goromaru day.”
Hundreds of members of Brisbane’s relatively modest Japanese expat community came out of the woodwork, queueing up in scorching heat for the chance to meet and take a photo with their country’s World Cup hero.
There were also a handful of Japanese TV crews, curious to hear how the fullback is adjusting to life in Australia and progressing as he prepares to test himself in overseas club rugby for the first time.
“Some of the boys are really surprised at how many fans he’s got here,” Tui told AAP.
“It’s out of this world how famous he is.
“We didn’t really get to experience it all until we went back to Japan after the World Cup. It was huge.
“Everyone was just screaming for Goru, happy for the team’s success at the World Cup. It’s been crazy ever since.”
Tui said Goromaru’s presence, and the media circus that looks set to follow him all season long, would be a “refreshing” experience for a rebuilding Reds side on course for a rough 2016, on the basis of their poor trial match form.
“It’s different, I guess. The spotlight’s all on him, the other boys can concentrate on their footy,” he said.
Tui has been helping Goromaru settle in at Ballymore, and is the perfect man to do so as a Japanese speaker and with 12 months of experience in the Reds program to fall back on.
The 28-year-old blindside flanker was plagued by injury last year, but the No.6 jersey appears his to lose after Lolo Fakaosilea’s hamstring injury on Friday night against the Brumbies opened up a back-row position.
“I’m just ready to contribute. If there is an opportunity to start I’m going to do my best to cement my spot,” Tui said.
“I think we struggle a bit in the ball-carrying area in our gameplan. I love to run the ball, so I’m just going to carry as much as I can in the games and lead the boys in that way.”