Waratahs

Tuqiri not vital to Union

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Lote Tuqiri is on the cusp of deciding the future of his playing career, and whether it is to end back in Rugby League or whether the 50-cap Wallaby veteran will persist in his adopted code of Rugby Union.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will table a take-it-or-leave-it offer in “the next immediate space of time”, and if offers from the Reds, Waratahs and the Wallabies are unable to keep him in Rugby Union after he finishes up his current contract at the end of the World Cup, then Tuqiri has plenty of options in League.

In the eyes of many, however, there is more at stake than the future of one player.

Australian rugby is struggling in general, and Tuqiri has been frustrated with the lack of opportunities he has on the wing as the Australain game suffers from a lack of offensive innovation.

If one of Rugby Union’s high profile personalities was to turn his back on the code, it would, particularly in Australia send out a definite message.

But the ARU’s Chief Executive, Gary Flowers says that even if Tuqiri bows out of the code, “Rugby [Union] will still be there”.

“There are younger players coming through, there are players who are interested in playing rugby,” Flowers told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) on Tuesday.

“There’s no doubt Lote is a profile player. Personalities in the game are important.”

“I think, though, the most important thing is that Lote is playing for the right reason – and that rugby is what he wants to do.”

But this is not to say that Australian rugby is not keen on retaining Tuqiri’s services.

“Having said that, in our view, he is a proven performer at international level.

“At the moment, I suppose he’s not playing at the standard that he would like. But I think there are pressures on him that are playing a part in all that.

“But certainly we regard him as a player we are interested in.”

Speaking of the negotations between the ARU and the Waratahs star, Flowers says, “It’s now been going on for many months.”

“We made an offer back in November. Lote didn’t accept it and we withdrew it.

“We will have [a new] offer in front of Lote pretty much in the next immediate space of time and it will be there for a period of time, which won’t be open-ended. It will be inside a week.”

“I’m not going to canvas what’s in [the contract],” he said. “As a matter of policy, we don’t do that but it is in line with what we do in terms of high-profile players.

“There is not a special payment here. It is in recognition of his abilities as a player.

“Players are ranked in their position in terms of their international standing and that plays a key role in determining the contractual offer, and that’s a process that’s been applied to Lote.

“He’s certainly regarded as being, in his position, one of the best players in the world on his day, on his form.”

 

365 Digital

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