Tuqiri brands Reds as cop-outs



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Waratahs fulback/wing Lote Tuqiri has stoked the fires ahead of the Super 14 derby match between his Waratahs and the Reds this weekend.

The match will decide where the Waratahs will finish and therefore whether or not they will feature in the play offs.

Moments after asking journalists on Tuesday what barbs were coming from north of the NSW-Queensland border in the lead-up to the annual grudge match, Tuqiri suggested the Reds were glorifying their role as the competition’s “spoilers” after the were ruled out of contention for a play off place weeks ago.

“They call themselves the spoilers and it’s a bit of a cop out to call yourselves the spoilers. Why not try a bit harder at the start of the year?” Tuqiri said.

Tuqiri had hoped to avoid raising opposition tempers ahead of such an important match for his team. Instead, the oft-outspoken star’s taunt has merely added further spice to a match the Waratahs must win to qualify for the semi-finals.

Not that Queensland have any less to play for at Suncorp Stadium.

Wooden-spooners in 2007 under Eddie Jones, a fourth straight loss to the Waratahs could have the Reds finishing only marginally better in second-last position this season.

That would not leave much for the Reds to smile about after the tournament especially since they were a much improved team in 2008 which saw them almost beat the tournament favourites.

Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie said that both sides were playing for high stakes, regardless of their contrasting standings on the ladder, and that he didn’t believe the Reds’ priority would be to end the Waratahs’ season.

“I don’t think their motivation will be anything other than to try to win the game,” McKenzie told AAP.

“When they get down to it, they will try to beat us because we are (from) New South Wales and obviously we will try and beat them because they are (from)Queensland.

“That is what these games are about. That is why they are good to have on the calendar.

“Local derbys are always good fare for rugby people.”

The Waratahs have returned to Australia after a disapointing tour that saw them going down to the Bulls and drawing with the Stormers. Tuqiri said it was imperative for the Waratahs to pick up a victory this weekend.

“You want to be playing some good footy leading into the semis and getting a bit of a roll on,” he said.

“We’re not too far away, but a really good win would be nice going to the semis for confidence and everything else.

“I wouldn’t say confidence is low but a good win always lifts that up going into a semi-final week.”

Tuqiri added that he was tipping former NSW teammate Morgan Turinui, who has been outstanding in recent weeks for Queensland, to try to unsettle the Waratahs with some verbal volleys, but urged his teammates not to get caught up in any sledging battles.

“I think he’ll certainly have a chirp back but you can’t make it personal,” Tuqiri said.

“It’s a game where if you take things personally, it takes away from what you’re trying to do as a team. I think we’ve been professional enough to do that this year.

“We’ve won the past three derby games and we’ve got good form coming into another derby game, so hopefully we can have the same result.”



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