Deans rules out Tuqiri Australia return

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The Independent Online

His focus solely on England, Robbie Deans says it's "unlikely" Lote Tuqiri will ever return to the Wallabies fold despite his impending comeback to rugby with English Premiership champions Leicester.

Leicester today confirmed they'd signed Tuqiri - most likely to a short-term deal as the dual international is also thought to have reached an agreement with Wests Tigers to relaunch his NRL career next season.

Deans says the fact that Tuqiri was in the Wallabies squad this year before the Australian Rugby Union tore up his contract in July for undisclosed reasons suggests he still has the talent to play at the highest level.

But, when asked today whether the door to the Wallabies remained open for Tuqiri to return some time down the track, coach Deans said he doubted it.

"That's a valid question actually. I don't know," he said.

"You're talking to the wrong bloke because I wasn't party to those (termination) proceedings.

"(But) he doesn't have a contract so ... I suspect the answer is it's unlikely because essentially they terminated his contract."

Wallabies five-eighth Matt Giteau is backing Tuqiri to be a big hit with Leicester, despite the dual international not having played any football in more than three months.

"I've caught up with him a few times and he still looks quite fit," said Giteau, who played more than 60 tests with the Fijian-born winger from 2003-08.

"Lote will be fine. He's a strong, competitive guy, likes the physicality, so I think he'll certainly be suited to the way they play here."

Deans has very much put Tuqiri behind him, the coach more concerned about studying up on the new-look England outfit the Wallabies will face at Twickenham on Sunday (NZT) in the opening test of their grand slam tour.

With talismanic five-eighth Jonny Wilkinson back on deck, Deans is refusing to under-estimate Australia's World Cup tormentors despite the locals being severely depleted.

"We don't have a lot of history on them. In terms on covering individuals, we don't have a lot of background," he said.

"But they're obviously players who are in form, so they've been picked due to the way they're performing now in the premiership.

"So clearly they're not picked for the fact that they're not playing well, so I guess we expect to meet England at their best.

"We know that Jonny will contribute to that and we will do as much research as we can based on the among of footage that we've got."

Deans was typically pragmatic when asked if it was a good time to be facing England, who have lost no less than 13 of the original 32-man squad that coach Martin Johnson picked last month for their autumn internationals.

"They could say the same thing about us," Deans said.

"We're both in similar positions, to be honest, within the international game - in every way."

Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald