Lote Tuqiri may start at fullback for the Waratahs against the Stormers in their Super 14 rugby match at Newlands on Saturday as part of a backline reshuffle that would put Sam Norton-Knight on the bench.
Report courtesy SAPA/News24.
Tahs coach Ewen McKenzie will name his side on Thursday for the game at Newlands, but Tuqiri ran at fullback at training on Tuesday, with last week’s No 15, Norton-Knight, in the reserves.
“It is one of our options. It is just an idea. He covers the position a little bit,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie is not likely to break up his youthful but successful 10, 12 and 13 combination of Kurtley Beale, Tom Carter and Rob Horne, meaning that if Tuqiri plays at fullback, Norton-Knight would go to the bench.
Norton-Knight has not yet fully recovered from a knock to his eye in last Saturday’s loss to the Bulls in Pretoria. The cut required stitches and partially affected his vision.
That change may not be the only one, with Randwick back Matt Carraro poised to be promoted from the bench to the run-on XV for his first Super 14 start.
Former Parramatta rugby league star, Timana Tahu, is also likely to be named on the bench for his long-awaited return. Tahu has not played for the Waratahs since round three, against the Highlanders.
Carraro and Tahu ran in the likely starting side at Tuesday’s training, although Tahu’s time on the wing was to cover for Lachie Turner, who was missing because of a bout of gastroenteritis.
McKenzie was “getting closer” to deciding his bench, but a 4-3 forwards-backs split is the fancied option. Tuqiri’s move to fullback would place him in an ideal position to lead the rookie Waratahs back line, and he is relishing the challenge.
“I have really enjoyed playing this year,” he said. “I have enjoyed the added responsibility. I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much. Initially, I thought, ‘What am I going to do here?’ I was in unchartered waters as a so-called senior player and having such a young group around me.”
With the Waratahs having given themselves a chance of winning the Super 14 title, Tuqiri admitted he appreciated such opportunities more than he did during his time with the Broncos in league.
“These opportunities don’t always arrive,” he said. “In a good team when you are young, you get spoiled. You don’t realise how lucky you were. I was that when I was coming through playing rugby league. I won a lot of games, series and titles playing with some good teams. It is tough when you are young to not think that you are 10-foot tall, bullet-proof and that these things happen all the time.”Tweet