Ok heres how i did it..... so stupid for not seeing this sooner.... went to get a sandwhich and the solution was obvious
take selection of the node in the backing bean, compare it node that im currently on... i used the id of my backing element
then tell the rich:tree to rerender itself on selection.
i was kinda hoping that i could use <a4j:outputPanel> to autimatically render itself after the node selection.... but it didnt work...
.... anyway hope it helps someone.