There is no "I" in T.E.A.M
5 Mar 2007
Nothing says "I respect you as a team-mate" like a good firm shove in the back on live international television.
Well, you'd be forgiven for thinking that after watching Waratah's and Wallabies wing Lote Tuqiri after his team drew with arch rivals, the Western Force in round 5 of the Super 14 this week.
As the final hooter blew, the scores were 16 a piece, when the Tah's were awarded a penalty 10 metres into the Force's half near the right touchline. A difficult kick, but well within Peter Hewat's range, and current form.
But team-mate Sam Norton-Knight thought otherwise, and opted to take a quick tap that no-one would have ever expected, and literately go it alone. A play that would have been amazing had it succeeded, however, it failed miserably and the Force promptly put the ball out after turning it over.
After the game was called, the teams went about shaking hands, and Tuqiri can clearly be seen doing so whilst making a bee-line to Norton-Knight.
As both players began walking up-field, Tuqiri gives Norton-Knight a firm shove in the back, an action that wouldn't look out of place had Norton-Knight been wearing the other shade of blue that their mutual opponents wore.
Now, after reading that, you may agree with Tuqiri's frustration. There was one glaringly safer and statistically more successful option on the cards, especially considering the game would be over after the next play. Norton-Knight had a brain explosion, everyone agrees.
But this is now overshadowed by Tuqiri's reaction, especially as this is just another example of Tuqiri's lack of commitment, both practically and emotionally, to the game and any team he is involved in.
The duel international (Tuqiri is a Rugby League convert who has played 4 games for the Kangaroos, and 99 games for the Brisbane Broncos) has been in the media spot light a lot over the past year, for his comments of being frustrated with the Wallabies losing patterns since he switched codes, and more recently, his back-and-forth approach to securing a more lucrative contract with the ARU. (His contract expires after the RWC, and is apparently in talks with several Rugby League clubs, hinting a possible return to the rival code).
OK, there is nothing wrong with a guy taking the best career path, nor having a burning desire to be on the winning side of things. But many Australians (who are passionate sports lovers) are becoming increasingly tiresome of Tuqiri's lack of pride in representing whoever it is he's playing for, regardless of their collective form or record.
This latest outburst only adds to the aura of selfishness that Tuqiri has long been surrounded by, and this reporter feels that perhaps Australian Rugby is better off without him, particularly so close to the RWC.