Tourist Tahu 'should savour the travel' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tourist Tahu 'should savour the travel'

By Darren Walton 02/05/2008 10:34:45 AM Comments (0)

NSW coach Ewen McKenzie has encouraged Timana Tahu to enjoy life as a tourist on the Waratahs' two-game Super 14 stint in South Africa.

The Waratahs and ARU recruited Tahu from the NRL on a $400,000-a-season deal but, after being overlooked for NSW's 22-man squad to face the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, the former rugby league international jumped aboard flight QF63 as little more than a highly-paid passenger.

McKenzie hasn't ruled out promoting Tahu for NSW's second game in the republic, against the Stormers in Cape Town, but said either way the rugby rookie should saviour the travelling experience.

Tahu played just three games for the Waratahs before succumbing to a chronic hamstring injury and McKenzie said merely being on the road with the team would prove invaluable for the classy back's development.

"It's an opportunity for him to again continue to catch up - catch up on the knowledge side of it and just be out there training," McKenzie said.

"He trained very well yesterday but that was the second time we've seen him in six weeks, so we'll continue that transition.

"He also gets to experience one of the great opportunities off the field, which is the travel, and he'll get to see South Africa, which is a great experience.

"It's part of the rugby experience."

Tahu admitted to still being "inexperienced playing rugby" but the 27-year-old was nevertheless disappointed to have missed selection for the Bulls game.

"It's just something I've got to put up with and bite my tongue and hope when I get my chance, that I perform," he said.

Even without Tahu, more than half of the NSW backline will be making their Super debuts in South Africa, while teenage five-eighth Kurtley Beale will be playing only his fourth game there.

McKenzie, though, is backing halfback Luke Burgess, centres Tom Carter and Rob Horne and winger Lachie Turner to deal with some of the most intimidating fans and arenas in world rugby.

"I don't worry about the hostile environment," McKenzie said.

"I just worry about the week in, week out. It's pretty hard for a guy like Robert Horne, for instance. (He has) come out of schoolboy football where he maybe plays eight or nine games a year.

"We're asking him to front up every week in a pretty tough competition. Now we're asking him to travel and do the same in front of a big crowd, a hostile crowd.

"I do worry about when that starts to take its toll - a mental toll, stress.

"But he's actually surprised me. He's actually done much better than I thought.

"You watch the young guys all the time because the signs of fatigue - mental fatigue, physical fatigue - they come earlier and it comes quickly because they're just not used to it.

"So we'll be watching that. Even with the Turners and the Beales, we've asked them to do a lot this year and we've got to keep an eye on them too."

NSW captain Phil Waugh said nothing could prepare the first-timers for South Africa.

"You've just got to experience it really," Waugh said.

"You can tell people what it's like, but it's about going out there for 80 minutes, playing in each game.

"It's a special place to play South Africa and a special place to tour and that's one of the great things about rugby.

"We get to go to places such as South Africa and play in hostile environments and they're generally the games you remember."

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