Roo recall caps "memorable" year for Tuqiri

Wests Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri’s "memorable year" got even better today following his call-up to the Kangaroos squad for the Four Nations tournament. <br><br> Tuqiri replaces Parramatta’s Jarryd Hayne, who withdrew last night with a hamstring injury. Tuqiri last wore the green and gold of Australia in rugby league in 2001-2002 where he played five Tests. <br><br> Should Tuqiri be selected in a starting side, he will become the first professional athlete to play league Tests for Australia, the Wallabies in rugby union, and then again for the Kangaroos. <br><br> The dual international enjoyed a stellar season for Wests Tigers in his first season back in the NRL after seven years playing rugby union at the highest level. <br><br> Tuqiri was rewarded with selection in the Kangaroos train-on squad but missed making the final cut until Hayne’s injury. He now joins Wests Tigers team-mates Robbie Farah and Chris Lawrence in the Kangaroos squad under Australian coach and club coach Tim Sheens. <br><br> “It is certainly a good feeling to pull on what is a revered jersey. Hopefully I get to pull it on over the next couple of weeks,’’ Tuqiri said today. <br><br> “I always had confidence in my ability. I didn’t come back to (league) to have a holiday. I knew I had a lot to give. I am now reaping the awards of playing alright and playing in a good team this year. <br><br> “We didn’t go all the way but it has been a pretty memorable year for myself. A game shy of the grand final and to get called up into this squad makes it even better. I can’t complain.” <br><br> Tuqiri says he is looking forward to playing alongside former Brisbane team-mate Darren Lockyer should he receive the honour of playing a league Test again for Australia. <br><br> “It is going to be great to play with Locky again. I haven’t played with him since my Broncos days. He is an unbelievable athlete. He has kept that form going and he is one of the best players, and probably will be one of the best players to play the game,’’ Tuqiri said. <br><br> “I have got to this step now. It is a great honour but it is something you don’t look upon until you finish. I’m getting a few pats on the back. That’s nice. Good for the ego. <br><br> “I didn’t come back to rugby league not to make an impact. I want to play as many games as I can. I am a sportsman. I am a professional athlete and I am very competitive. <br><br> “The guys who are here are top notch athletes and they will do the job for Australia. We have got a lot of depth in the NRL. I watched the Kiwis run around the other night and they played quite well so they well be pretty tough. <br><br> “You look at guys like Chris Lawrence for example. He has played well over the last couple of years and he deserves to be in this squad. There are plenty of good players in this team to bring home the Four Nations trophy.” <br><br> Tuqiri stopped short of declaring to be in career-best form but was happy with his debut season for Wests Tigers following his departure from rugby union. <br><br> “I knew I had plenty to give. The Tigers helped me do that. I played in a good team and outside some really good players,’’ he said. <br><br> “I am certainly happy with where I am at and how it is all going. I’m not content but I am sort of happy where I am at. <br><br> “Over the next year or so with the Tigers, I think I will certainly improve. At the moment I am not going too bad. <br><br> “I think I was lucky this year. The monkey was off my back when with the first touch of the footy I scored a try and that probably relieved a bit of the pressure. <br><br> “A lot of the talk was winning that game and coming back. My confidence grew with the confidence placed in me playing in that Tigers outfit. My confidence is sky high at the moment and I am feeling alright.”