Wallabies moved on from Tuqiri: Mortlock - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies moved on from Tuqiri: Mortlock

By Adrian Warren 07/07/2009 06:26:08 PM Comments (0)

Captain Stirling Mortlock says the Wallabies feel for sacked former teammate Lote Tuqiri and have made contact with him, but are now focusing on their opening Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand.

The Australian squad reconvened in Sydney on Tuesday morning without Tuqiri, who was sacked by the Australian Rugby Union last week.

Veteran centre Mortlock spoke on behalf of the group after Tuqiri's dismissal was discussed at a team meeting on Tuesday morning.

"The unfortunate thing for us is that no one in the group actually knows what has happened and secondly, legally we can't make comment anyway," Mortlock told the media in Sydney.

"A lot of us have been with Lote for a long time, we're all very close with him, good mates, and you feel for him going through this and his family.

"The reality of it is that it's pretty much all we can say.

"In 11 days from now we are playing a significant Test match and the whole group wants to focus wholly on that and move towards that."

While Mortlock didn't want his team mates or himself to answer further questions about Tuqiri, he confirmed they had been in contact with the veteran winger.

"A lot of the guys have had contact with Lote and I guess the most important thing for us is that Lote knows all the guys have been in contact with him," Mortlock said.

The Wallabies skipper again emphasised the Auckland Test on Saturday week was their major priority when asked if Tuqiri not playing in their first four matches of the year made it easier for them to manage without him.

"First and foremost everyone is professional, we are very focused on what is in front of us and that's a game irrelevant of whether Lote is here or not," Mortlock said.

"He isn't part of the group, so he's not here any more."

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was equally matter of fact in dealing with the washup from Tuqiri's sacking.

Deans said there was a brief conversation about Tuqiri and admitted that sometimes it was difficult to move on without broaching such an issue.

"These guys love to play rugby. Obviously it's been of interest to them and a bit of a distraction," Deans said.

"But now that we are together they are aware that it's not their issue, it's an ARU matter and the ARU are dealing with it and they are here to play rugby."

Meanwhile Tuqiri was settling in for a remote resort island holiday with his family in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday.

Tuqiri arrived at Port Moresby Airport on Monday where he transferred to Rabaul, East New Britain Province, in PNG's north.

Local media reported he declined to comment when asked about his plans, simply saying: "I'm here to spend time with my family in East New Britain."

Staff at the hotel he is staying at told AAP he was not taking any calls to his room.

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