Tuqiri back in Origin picture: Morris - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tuqiri back in Origin picture: Morris

By Wayne Heming 16/03/2010 09:07:10 PM Comments (0)

Selectors' chairman Des Morris believes Lote Tuqiri's eye-catching NRL comeback for the Wests Tigers would have left Queensland coach Mal Meninga feeling all "warm and fuzzy".

Tuqiri turned back the clock with some trademark runs in his first rugby league game since switching codes in 2003 in a comeback that suggested he could be a State of Origin contender.

"His return was pretty eye-catching," Morris told AAP after watching the highlights of the Tigers comeback win over Manly on Monday night.

"That will make Mal all warm and fuzzy I would think.

"It's great to have him back in our game.

"It definitely adds another string to our bow and helps our depth."

Queensland will be lining up for a record fifth successive series win this year but Morris warned the Blues would be "fired up" after hitting back to win the third game last year.

Tuqiri's return however is timely with Test centre Justin Hodges likely to miss the entire Origin series after surgery on his snapped Achilles.

NSW went for size out wide last year selecting the likes of Josh Morris and Jarryd Hayne and Meninga could switch Israel Folau into the centres should Tuqiri recapture the form that saw him play in the 2002 series before joining the rugby union ranks.

Meninga will also make changes to his pack with tackling demon Dallas Johnson now playing overseas.

Brisbane backrower Corey Parker got his Origin application in early with 54 tackles against the Cowboys to open his season impressively.

"We'll have to see what happens when the time comes but we're getting some genuine depth in our ranks and Lote coming back is an added bonus to us," said Morris.

"Corey (Parker) has played three Origins for us and in the latter part of last year he started to get more involved and he seems to have settled into that role a lot better.

"One would expect if he kept that form up he could be a real chance of playing Origin again."

Tuqiri, whose 145 metres gained was the best by any player and combined with two line breaks and six tackles, was rapt in his comeback game describing it as a "dream return" to league.

But he admitted to making a gaff after half time, chipping ahead on the third tackle only to realise he wasn't playing the "other" game.

"I chipped ahead on the third tackle and remember thinking `what am I doing' knowing any of my Waratah team mates in the stands would have been laughing their heads off," he said.

Tuqiri experienced mixed emotions leading up to the game, a talk to coach Tim Sheens just before taking the field calming him down.

"I was stuffed just doing the warm-up," laughed the 104kg Fijian born Tuqiri.

"I'd felt nerves and excited all day.

"But the coach (Sheens) said not to put pressure on myself and it was good advice."

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