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Tahu was 'close' to Wallabies selection

By Darren Walton 23/07/2009 07:44:37 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has revealed Timana Tahu had been pencilled in for his third Test start just a month before his anticipated departure from the code.

While the NSW and Australian Rugby Unions were on Thursday night still awaiting contact from Tahu's camp in order to clarify his position, it was understood the dual international was hoping to seek an early release from his lucrative rugby contracts in order to return to rugby league.

Parramatta boss Paul Osborne, a long-time confidant of Tahu's, earlier on Thursday said he was hopeful the backline star would return to the Eels next season on a three-year deal with his former NRL club.

Deans will not stand in his way, despite being an unabashed fan of the 28-year-old utility.

"It's entirely Timana's choice," Deans said. "I'm a great believer that players are entitled to choice.

"If he wants to be somewhere else, that's all we need to know really."

Perhaps all Tahu needed to know was that he was closer to selection in the Wallabies' starting XV than he may have thought.

Despite being a member of Australia's 30-man Tri Nations squad, Tahu has not figured in any of the four Tests this winter and is apparently growing more and more frustrated at his lack of game time, especially after spending much of the Super 14 season on the Waratahs bench.

Deans, though, said Tahu had been very much in his plans and would have started - almost certainly at outside centre - against Italy in Melbourne last month had he not withdrawn from a Sydney club game for West Harbour the previous Saturday because of a stomach bug.

"He wasn't far away at all, but insofar as he hadn't played, he had an injury, we didn't consider him," Deans told AAP.

"Yeah, he's obviously very capable.

"There's no doubt he was making headway. He'd worked really hard and obviously these blocks that we get them in camp are invaluable.

"But that's not the point. If you don't want to be there ultimately ..."

Deans is not overly surprised to learn Tahu seemingly wants out of rugby.

"We had some conversations, Timana and I," he said.

"It was never easy for him in terms of getting that continuity that would have served him well, whether it be because of injuries, selection, whatever. Both contributed to an inability to get a flow on.

"I also think the element that he found difficult was time away from home - travel time, which is something that's unique (in rugby)."

Indeed, Tahu was very much a family man who on Wallabies tours preferred to spend much of his free time talking to his wife and children rather than exploring the sites with teammates.

Those same teammates expressed surprise and disappointment on Thursday that he appeared to want out of the code.

"All indications were that he was really enjoying the Waratahs and Wallabies - and he was playing his best footy," Waratahs captain and Wallabies flanker Phil Waugh said.

"Each game he played, he was getting better. He really looked like a rugby player at the end of the Super 14.

"Timing wise, he's probably left just as he was starting to come to terms with the game."

Deans did not expect the Tahu drama to be a distraction to the Wallabies and ruled out calling for reinforcements for the upcoming trip to Cape Town for the August 8 showdown with the Springboks.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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