Why Reds almost won Tuqiri race

Lote Tuqiri has revealed that he came “very close” to leaving the Waratahs and joining the Reds during his protracted contract negotiations.

In an interview on the newsletter of the Australia Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA), Tuqiri for the first time revealed the details of the contract that will keep him in Rugby Union for another five years.

The Wallaby wing said he is “relieved” that the contract issue is finally all over.

He said that the toughest thing to deal with was the perception that he was dragging his feet.

“The fans were losing patience with me thinking I was taking my time to weigh up all different offers and make up my mind,” he said in the interview with RUPA.

“The reality is that between December and last Wednesday, I didn’t have an offer on the table from the ARU so that public perception was difficult. The media scrutiny was also intense. I think the timing had quite a bit to do with the added attention as there wasn’t a lot going on in Australian sport with it being off-season for all the Australian football codes.”

Asked how close he was to going to the Reds he said “very close”.

“I had a number of good conversations with Eddie Jones [Reds coach], who I have a good relationship with and there were a lot of attractions about moving back to Queensland where I am from originally.

“Both sets of grandparents are still up in Brisbane and so it was an inviting offer to go back to enjoy having those support networks and family benefits. The Reds also have some of the best youngsters in Australian rugby coming through and should be a real force in a couple of years.”

However, the Rugby League offers were just as enticing.

“I was very close [to going back to League] and considered Souths very seriously,” the dual international said.

“Both Peter Holmes-a Court and Russell Crowe are successful in their own right and are working really hard at building a successful culture at Souths. I liked the way they did things and Souths are only on their way up. League has always been there for me having played it as a young bloke.”

He admitted that protracted the process could have affecting his ability to focus on the field.

“Perhaps it was affecting me subconsciously in some way, but I didn’t feel like I was any less focussed on the game. To some extent I actually think it made me more focussed, particularly in South Africa when I was able to get away from it for a couple of weeks.”

He also spoke about the reports that he may be considered for the Wallaby captaincy, leading towards 2011.

“That’s a long way off and there a lot of hurdles to cross before then, but it is certainly something I wouldn’t knock back if it came.

“I was lucky enough to get the joint vice-captaincy with George Smith against Italy in Rome [on the year-end tour in November] and really enjoyed the responsibility and leadership.

“I enjoy taking that role on the field and would be very happy to take it on again. I’m in Rugby for the long haul now so the possibility of captain gives me something else to focus on and another aspect of my game to work on.”


365 Digital

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