Pedro Rolando: 33-year-old Canberra Rugby Royalty finally thrust into sudden Super spotlight

Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 4:33 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
It's a high scoring affair in the nation's capital as the Brumbies host Moana.

For many, the sight of Pedro Rolando on the bench would've been a shock and unknown. For ACT club Royals, it's been a long time coming.

Rolando will become Brumby #253 if called upon from the bench, named to take on the defending champion Crusaders in Christchurch.

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It's one of a plethora of changes coach Stephen Larkham has made as injuries and the Wallabies' resting policy forces a revamp.

"He's been around for a long time now and he's genuinely a good bloke in the community," Larkham said on his selection.

"He's waited for this opportunity for a long time and I think everyone can appreciate what he's gone through to get to this point.

"He was excited but has gone about his business as normal and preparing as well as he can to perform for the team."

The 33-year-old Argentinan arrived in Canberra over a decade ago, the 'GOAT' of Royals Rugby after guiding them to several premierships.

During this time, Rolando bounced across representative teams in the region, suiting up for the Brumbies 7s, Brumbies Runners, ACT Griffins and NRC side Canberra Vikings, but never got a crack at Super Rugby.

However with Nic White rested, the scrumhalf has earned his opportunity to shine to the delight of those who have been with him on the journey.

“Honestly, I feel like this has been a long time coming,” Royals club legend and ex-captain Ben Johnston told

“He’s just a genuinely great bloke, works harder than anyone I know on his game and fitness. I think even his longevity, he’s 33 and to finally get his Super debut, I think it’s a massive credit to him.

“He’s unreal and someone in terms of my time playing with him at Royals, someone who you have to have in your team.”

“I’m so excited for him," retired coach Wayne Southwell added.

“I talked to him at the start of the year and he was in their short-time to cover injuries, I saw him sitting on the bench a couple weeks ago as 24th man and thought ‘how good would it be if he got on’ so to be selected in the 23 I’m thrilled for him and really excited.”

He personifies toughness as a half along with an elite boot according to the duo, typified in the 2019 John I Dent Cup Grand Final. 

Rolando had claimed the MacDougall Medal as ACT Player of the Year and a fourth successive Gus Vallance Memorial Trophy for the highest point scorer in the comp, only to suffer a nasty ACL injury.

He would shrug it off, playing four games with no ACL before going on to kick what would be the premiership-deciding conversion from the sidelines against Tuggeranong with four minutes to go.

“He got injured in a club game against Queanbeyan and we didn’t realise how bad it was because he never let on,” Southwell explained.

“It was the training run beforehand, he went down holding his knee and everyone was concerned being 2-3 days from a Grand Final but got up straight away and never let on…it was kind of hanging by a thread and there was no difference in how he played.

“He was kicking goals from the sidelines with the stride leg with no ACL in it. He’s super tough and humble, fully professional in his approach to the game…all of those Grand Finals he’s been a major part of the Royals journey.”

There's no biggest test for a debutant than the 11-time Super Rugby champions at home.

However, there is no doubt that Rolando's fierce style of play will have him primed to step up in Johnston's and Southwell's eyes.

“He plays really good eyes-up footy,” Johnston said. “He’ll stick to the structure but I think he’ll bring a great defensive game, he’s cleaned up a lot of blokes for us making half breaks.

“He’s got us out of a lot of problems with his kicking game over the years punching them down the field...He’s a fiery kind of guy on the field but cool and calm under pressure…he’s been our goal kicker for a while now and he comes up clutch in those pressure moments nine times out of ten.

“Everyone at our club loves him. I’m stoked to call him one of my best mates down here and playing in Canberra. He’s a great bloke and I’m so stoked and proud of him for getting his opportunity.”

“He’s as good as any Super kicker in the world but his natural game is to want to run," Southwell added.

“He’s a player that will back himself and a little bit cheeky ten metres out, he’s more than a threat around there.”