No more NRL raids for the Waratahs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

No more NRL raids for the Waratahs

By Darren Walton 23/07/2009 07:47:30 PM Comments (0)

The NSW Waratahs are confident of securing quality reinforcements following the shock loss of backline aces Lote Tuqiri and Timana Tahu in the space of two short weeks.

The Waratahs admit to being blindsided on both occasions but remain hopeful of filling their huge shoes, although it is highly unlikely they will be raiding the NRL ranks again any time soon.

The termination of Tuqiri's contract with the Australian and NSW Rugby Unions and Tahu's apparent desire to walk away from the 15-a-side game come on top of the Waratahs also losing fellow dual internationals Wendell Sailor and Mat Rogers to rugby league in the past two seasons.

"Never say never, but I'd argue that we don't take them straight from league itself," Waratahs chief executive Jim L'Estrange said on Thursday.

"Clearly it's disappointing that so many of the players are going back."

While neither the NSWRU or the ARU had heard anything official from Tahu's camp as of late Thursday afternoon, L'Estrange was resigned to the 28-year-old having played his last game for the Tahs.

"From what you read in the papers and on the basis of some coincidental behaviour like not going to (Wallabies) training, I'm a little bit worried," L'Estrange said. "It doesn't look good."

Nor does L'Estrange hold out much hope of retaining Tuqiri, who is scheduled to take his grievances with the ARU to court next month.

While Wallabies utility Drew Mitchell could serve as a ready-made replacement for Tuqiri, L'Estrange said the Waratahs were now hunting for another winger and lock, the only two positions where they are short.

"But the good thing about our backline at this stage is there's a good bit of versatility there between the Drew Mitchells, the Lachie Turners and the Kurtley Beales and the Robbie Hornes.

"They can all play a variety of positions.

"And even Josh Holmes, our second halfback, is playing really well at inside centre for Warringah, where Brett Sheehan's the halfback.

"But clearly we are looking for some more outside backs and we'll be on the case as we speak.

"There's still plenty of time. It's July and the season doesn't start till February."

Despite being disgruntled at his lack of game time with NSW and the Wallabies, Tahu still managed to show enough to win the Waratahs' best back award this season.

"The last six weeks of the Super 14, particularly in Africa, Timana was really starting to understand his role and was really starting to enjoy his football and he was great for us," NSW captain Phil Waugh said on Thursday.

"He was a standout towards the end of the Super 14. Most importantly, I thought he was really enjoying the culture and really enjoying the environment and it's just really disappointing to end this way.

"Lote was a huge loss for us and obviously throw in the experience of Timana ... and just that experience and presence that he has around the squad, it's a big loss."

Waugh coyly indicated the Waratahs may have a major signing announcement next week and there was some speculation former Wallabies lineout king Dan Vickerman may cut short his studies at Cambridge to return to Sydney.

If Vickerman was to come back next season, it would give him time to re-establish himself in the Wallabies fold in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

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