Wallabies rally around returning Tahu - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies rally around returning Tahu

By Darren Walton 07/11/2008 01:27:49 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies are backing Timana Tahu to produce an explosive performance in his much-anticipated return to Test rugby against Italy on Saturday.

The high-profile rugby league convert was unceremoniously dumped after committing a series of defensive blunders in his one and only previous Test start, when Australia suffered a record-breaking 53-8 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg back in August.

After spending the past 10 weeks lifting his defensive game - and rebuilding his battered confidence - Tahu has been reunited in the centres with Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock for the European tour-opening clash with the Azzurri in Padova.

"He's done a lot of work, Timana, in analysis. He's done a lot of work in training and he's just better for that," Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said on Friday.

"It happens in training first. You can't just turn it on the weekend if you haven't developed the capabilities you need through the week and he's been working hard at that.

"If he just brings that with him and backs himself and doesn't second guess, he'll be fine. In fact, he'll be better than fine because he's already shown what a capable player he is."

Deans said "without doubt" the former NSW State of Origin and Australian rugby league international's troubles in South Africa stemmed from defensive misreads, as opposed to ineffective tackling.

But the coach said Tahu could have done with more support from his more experienced teammates.

"It's a tough context to go into, particularly when you consider the players around him who weren't playing their part," Deans said.

"To put your piece in the puzzle in when there's not too many other pieces in, it's tough to find where to slot it.

"Yeah, it was a tough experience for him but he's better for it, and he's better for it most importantly because he's got on with the work.

"He hasn't been comfortable and he's gone on and addressed the things he needed to address, so he can enter this game with confidence."

Although Tahu has been named at inside centre, he alternated with Mortlock during training on Friday and may well find himself at outside centre at various stages of Saturday's game.

Either way, Wallabies five-eighth Berrick Barnes was licking his lips at the prospect of feeding his powerhouse midfield with plenty of pill.

"We've got two of the best ball runners in the world in Mortlock and Timana," Barnes said.

"It would be great to see Timana get a bit of ball instead of being on the back foot 24/7 like the last few games he's played.

"So it's probably my job to get it to him."

From his experience opposing him during their NRL days, Barnes described Tahu as one of the toughest players in the game to bring down.

"He's bloody tough to stop," Barnes said. "Him and Eric Grothe, I tell you, not good."

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