Rugby Championship News

Mooney backs Tahu for TriNations





Australia A coach Phil Mooney believes that for rugby league convert Timana Tahu to realise his potential in the code of Rugby Union he needs to be selected in the Wallabies’ Tri-Nation squad that will be named on Monday.

The Australia A team will finalise their Pacific Nations Cup campaign with what amounts to a grand final against the NZ Maori in Sydney on Sunday.

Once the Pacific Nations Cup is complete the Australian selectors Robbie Deans, Michael Foley and Jim Williams will meet to finalise the 30-man squad for the Tri-Nations series against the Springboks and All Blacks.

Should Tahu be overlooked, the next rugby he will be involved in will be as a member of the West Harbour Pirates.

Coach while Mooney intends no disrespect to the club or to the Sydney club competition but he is convinced that Tahu has reached that stage in his rugby education when he is ready for finishing school.

“For Tahu to continue his development, he arguably needs to be training and playing alongside the Wallabies,” Mooney told the Australian.

“Sending him back to club football is probably not what he needs now.

“When you see what Robbie Deans achieved coaching a player like, say, Scott Hamilton … when he first came onto the scene, he didn’t look like he belonged but under Robbie he played for the All Blacks and now he ticks all the boxes.

“Now imagine what a player like Timana could learn spending a period of time being coached by Robbie.”

Tahu’s introduction to rugby union has been hampered by injury during the Super 14 but the Pacific Nations Cup has given him a chance to show off his talents.

He sliced the ineffectual Tongan defence to ribbons and against Fiji last weekend regularly found himself in space.

Tahu had so much space that he had trouble connecting with his support players and more than once he missed them with long passes on the run.

“That’s just part of his rugby development,” said Mooney.

“He can certainly catch and pass. It’s just that he comes from a game where he didn’t do it very often. But as a 12 in rugby, it’s your bread and butter.”

As for the rest of the Australia A team Mooney said that he did not need to labour the obvious by reminding his team that they are playing for Wallabies selection on Sunday.

“Everyone has an awareness that if they go well against quality opposition like the Maori it says a lot more than standout displays against other teams.

“We’ve got a whole group of players who could come into the reckoning for the Wallabies.”

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