Rugby Championship News

Rejuvenated Tuqiri ready for Bledisloe action

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With politics the flavour of the week it would be easy to forget there is a crucial game of Tri Nations rugby this weekend, no less than the first Bledisloe Cup clash of the season.

New Zealand are the current holders of the cup and will travel to Melbourne this weekend with no intentions of giving it up, after all they will be wanting as much silverware as possible this season. including the World Cup.

Yet Australia will not go quietly into the Melbourne night, and least of all controversial Waratahs winger Lote Tuqiri.

Tuqiri may have had a draining season to date, with his high-profile re-signing saga, a less than satisfactory Super 14 campaign with the Waratahs and various headlines for his off-field antics with teammates, but a two-week regeneration programme has left him feeling rejuvenated and eager for action.

He was removed from the Australian squad that faced Wales in two Test matches in order to work with Australian trainer Jason Weber. At the time he was less than happy with the decision, but in hindsight couldn’t have wished for a better outcome.

The benefits of the two-week break from playing reaped instant reward with Tuqiri bagging a brace of tries on his return against Fiji. He is now hoping he can take that form into the Bledisloe Cup clash and produce a barnstorming display.

“At the time, I wasn’t filthy, but I wasn’t happy about not being available for those Test matches,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“In hindsight, it’s been great for me. I feel refreshed mentally and physically.

“More so mentally. I’ve had a big year this year. More so off the field. There’s a lot of things that have happened.

“I certainly knew when I came back that this is where I want to be. The first thing I said when I came back was ‘get me out of the cage’.

Tuqiri was unaware of the effects that such a turbulent year was having on him. Incidents such as his on-field push of Sam Norton-Knight, infamous phone conversation with Wallaby selector Michael O’Connor about Waratahs team-mate Peter Hewat, and the ‘will he, wont he stay in union’ saga, did little to help the star wing.

“I was the guy who was … not really blamed, but it was my face that was getting splashed across the paper every time we lost,” he said. “It grates on you a bit and it may not help you mentally,” Tuqiri added.

“You don’t realise the toll it takes on your mental state and I’m quite thankful for having those couple of weeks off.

“Hopefully I can show, in the next couple of weeks, how it’s helped me out in that way.”

The former league star is still to experience a Bledisloe Cup series win since he switched codes but has a renewed sense of belief heading into this seasons clashes after an impressive Wallaby display against South Africa in Cape Town.

“That really gave us a mark about what we were doing and what we were doing was right,” he said.

“I certainly have a confidence in my teammates at the moment to play well and get the game plan across on the ground that I probably haven’t before.”
 
365 Digital

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