Tuqiri's fairytale Kangaroo selection

Wests Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri's fairytale return to rugby league continued today with his selection in the the Australian team to play Papua New Guinea in their opening match of the Four Nations Tournament at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday. <br><br> Tuqiri, who received a late call-up to the Kangaroos on Tuesday after Jarryd Hayne was ruled out with a hamstring injury, last played for Australia in 2002 and only returned to the NRL this year following a seven-year stint playing rugby union at the highest level. <br><br> The Australian team also includes two debutants - Nate Myles (Roosters) and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders). Matt Scott (Cowboys), who has been named on an extended bench, is yet to make his international debut also. <br><br> Tuqiri said he was sitting quietly at the back of the room when the team was being announced and received the "shock of his life" when Australian and Tigers coach Tim Sheens called his name out. <br><br>"The team was read out ... (Billy) Slater, (Brett) Morris, then the centres, then Tim said Tuqiri,’’ he said. <br><br> “Honestly after that, I didn’t know what the rest of the team was because my head was still spinning. I thought what the hell is going on here. I didn’t know what to think. <br><br> “After the meeting, the boys came over and shook my hand. I thought it was a little gee-up. When I got on the bus, I had a little giggle to myself. I was smiling on the inside.” <br><br> The selection of Tuqiri sees him become the first player to play for the Kangaroos, the Wallabies in rugby, and then again for the Kangaroos. <br><br> “It is a great achievement but I have to go out there first and still do the job,’’ Tuqiri said. <br><br> “I’m pinching myself. This is just as big as an honour, if not more, than when I was a Kangaroo before. <br><br> “There are not too many times when an older bloke like myself gets another chance. Hopefully I can stay here. I can’t believe it, it is awesome. <br><br> “Luck has obviously fallen my way in terms of Jarryd being out. I know Tim has already put us on a warning saying if you don’t perform, you are pretty much out because the competition within this team is so strong. <br><br> “I have been lucky enough to have first crack at it so hopefully I can stay there.” <br><br> The return to the green and gold Kangaroos jersey caps off a "whirlwind" season for Tuqiri, who was very thankful for the opportunity presented to him by the Wests Tigers to return to the NRL after a seven-year stint playing rugby. <br><br> “It has been an unbelievable ride. Scoring a try on my first touch for the Wests Tigers to now playing for the Kangaroos,’’ a smiling Tuqiri said. <br><br> “When (Wests Tigers CEO) Stephen Humphreys came over to Leicester in January to finalise the deal, I never imagined I would be in this position now. <br><br> “The last nine months have been incredible. The only reason why I am here with the Kangaroos is because I was playing for a good club and playing in a good team. <br><br> “I have got to thank the boys for that and thank the coaching staff at the Wests Tigers for putting me in a good place to get it rolling. <br><br> “Tim made me feel real comfortable in making the move initially. I was confident in my ability but the game had changed since I last played. <br><br> “Tim told me he thought I had plenty left in me and that I would go well in a Tigers shirt. And that was all I needed really, confidence from the head man at the Tigers. It just filtered down to the players and it was real easy when I came to the Tigers. Things just stemmed on from there. <br><br> “It is a real family oriented club and the players are tight. That was the thing I liked. Some of the first few people who text or called me about making the Australian team were the Tigers boys. It was really nice. I probably haven’t had that over the last few years in rugby. <br><br> “I did with the Waratahs but you don’t spend as much time with the one team as you do when you play rugby league. That was one of the big differences playing back in this game and for the Tigers. We play for each other. <br><br> “Playing rep footy was always in my mind and it has come to fruition this time. I would have loved to have played Origin but not to be. That is still a goal for next year. For now, I’m back in a Kangaroos jumper - a great honour.” <b><br><br>VB Kangaroos team: Billy Slater, Brett Morris, Brent Tate, Willie Tonga, Lote Tuqiri, Darren Lockyer (C), Cooper Cronk, Nate Myles, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen. Interchange (from): David Shillington, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Anthony Watmough, Kurt Gidley, Darius Boyd, Matt Scott.</b>