TOKYO, 30 Sep - One vitally important person in Matt To'omua's life was not among the 47,885 in Tokyo Stadium on Sunday to see the Wallabies' replacement fly-half almost inspire the greatest comeback in World Cup history. In fact, she was not even watching the match against Wales on television.
That is because To'omua, above, has the great fortune of being married to Ellyse Perry, arguably the greatest active female sportswoman in the world. By the age of 16 Perry had represented Australia at both football and cricket, and, despite opting to prioritise the latter, is the only woman to have played for her country at a World Cup in both sports.
It is no wonder To'omua has been relying on her input for the Wallabies' campaign to claim the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time.
"We have a talk about stuff, mental stuff mainly. We bounce ideas off each other, she inspires a lot of people," To'omua said, moments after he had almost dragged Australia back from an 18-point deficit during a thrilling second-half cameo on Sunday.
"But she was playing before my match so I didn’t get too much of a hint today."
Perry, who was in Japan, flew back to Sydney before the Wales test to take her place in the Australia women's cricket team facing Sri Lanka on Sunday in the first of a one-day international (ODI) series. It leaves To'omua somewhat bereft of his key ally but the playmaker is adamant that "when she plays well, so do I".
That should be good news for all Wallabies fans. Across the recent 10 Ashes matches against England in 2019 Perry topped the batting and the bowling averages, scoring a century in the lone test match and taking seven wickets for 22 runs in an ODI.
"You probably shouldn’t say you admire your wife but I definitely admired the way she performed in the Ashes," To'omua said.
"She was brilliant. That was special. I am forever fielding questions about her or forever fielding requests for her. Not in a condescending way, but I am super proud of her."
What an incredible all-rounder Ellyse Perry is!— ICC (@ICC) September 11, 2019
150 ODI wickets ✅
52.94 ODI batting average 🔥 pic.twitter.com/HZOFkoq4u6
The duo have long been fondly competitive, with To'omua often telling stories of his wife not being able to handle his short-pitched bowling or him hitting her fast-medium efforts over the fence in backyard cricket. It is clearly a formula that works for them both, with To'omua arguably in the form of his life, too.
Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete praised the "momentum" To'omua brought with him when he entered the fray against Wales in the 44th minute on Sunday, and outside-centre Samu Kerevi went further in a media conference on Monday.
"Matty really likes to play at the line. He's a strong ball carrier as well, which allows us to be on the front foot," Kerevi said. "He stands real flat and goes at the defence so it's really helpful for our backline."
With everyone in Wallabies colours, from coach Michael Cheika down, saying that the second-half display against Wales offers Australia a "blueprint" as to how they want to play, the chances are that To'omua will soon get a chance to direct from the kick-off.
"Everyone wants to start but in saying that I got 35-odd minutes off the bench today and I'm glad I'm getting more and more and more," he said, before expanding on that blueprint.
"I think we kick the least out of most teams in world rugby and when we hold it and we run and we play Australian rugby we look all right. So we need to trust that, even in the heat of battle."
Given the chance, To'omua could still deliver Australia the level of success it has got used to applauding from his wife.