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Tuqiri could join Tigers for round one

By David Beniuk 16/02/2010 06:35:24 PM Comments (0)

Wests Tigers have asked Lote Tuqiri's English rugby union club for an early release in a bid to have the dual international playing in round one of the NRL.

Tuqiri is currently playing for English premiership side Leicester where his contract expires at the end of March, even though the northern hemisphere rugby season runs until the end of May.

Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys has asked Leicester to cut Tuqiri free two weeks early, a request which could have the 30-year-old in the side to meet Manly on March 15.

"We've had some dialogue with them about the possibility of them releasing him a bit earlier but the ball's really in their court because he's their player until the end of March," Humphreys told reporters on Tuesday.

"I'm expecting to hear back from them about the possibility of an early release this week.

"Best case scenario we could get him back just prior to round one, whether that means he would be ready to play round one or not's up to the coach.

"The worst case would be the end of the month so there's probably a two-week swinger there."

Humphreys said Tuqiri was keen to begin the next phase of his career following his sacking by the Australian Rugby Union last year.

"He is but both he and we are also respectful of the fact that he's contracted with Leicester so we've been considerate in our request and really that ball's in Leicester's court," he said.

"If they decide to hold Lote until the end of March, well that's fine, we'll both live with that and respect that but if they do see a way to let him go early, well that would be a big bonus."

Although Tuqiri won't play in them, Humphreys said Leicester's finals prospects could affect the decision.

"Lote's contract allows him to exit at the end of March irrespective of the rest of their season," he said.

"There are three competitions they play in over there so some of the answer will lie in how they are placed in the three competitions."

Leicester sit atop the English premiership table, second in their pool for the domestic cup competition and third in their European Cup pool.

At Tuesday's naming of the teams for this weekend's Foundation Cup trial against the Sydney Roosters, Tigers coach Tim Sheens said Tuqiri was most likely to play fullback in 2010.

Captain Robbie Farah said his side was excited at the prospect of the former Brisbane, Queensland State of Origin, Kangaroos, NSW Waratahs and Wallabies winger joining them.

"The best thing about it is I guess it dragged on for five or six months, we didn't know if he was coming or not," Farah said.

"Now we can prepare knowing that he is going to be here with us in a few weeks.

"I spoke to Dell (Wendell Sailor) up at the All Stars on the weekend and he's been in contact with Lote and he's pretty excited to come and join the boys.

"He's been in winning sides pretty much in his whole career ... hopefully he can bring that winning mentality to us as well."

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