Reborn Radike fitter, better at 35 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reborn Radike fitter, better at 35

Jim Morton 11/07/2011 04:08:08 PM Comments (0)

Australia selector Jim Williams knows what it takes to make a Rugby World Cup squad in your 30s and has no doubt the reactivated Radike Samo can make an impact at 35.

Samo won his first Super Rugby title with Williams at the Brumbies in 2001 and the Wallabies forwards coach is so impressed by the reborn Red's second-coming that he rates him fitter and better now.

The Fiji-born backrower was the major bolter in Australia's 40-man squad which assembled in Sydney on Monday, riding off the back of Queensland's 2011 success.

It surprised few of his state teammates who have applauded Samo's physicality and intensity since Ewen McKenzie plucked him out of semi-retirement in Sydney club rugby last year.

Williams, who was 31 when he was a member of the Wallabies' triumphant 1999 World Cup squad, said he'd done more than just turn back the clock.

"He's still in great nick, it's incredible," Williams told AAP. "I'd say he's even fitter now than he was back when I played with him.

"He's playing just as well I think and with Radike it's always about the intensity."

The towering Samo, who played six Tests in 2004, agrees he's in better shape, and puts his Lazarus-like comeback down to his young Reds teammates and a decision to abstain from alcohol.

"A lot of people think I'm old but it's only a number and these guys make it easy for me," he told AAP during the Reds' victory parade celebrations on Monday.

Samo's father died in February last year and he hasn't had a hard drink since.

"The Fijian culture says you have to do it (abstain) for three months and I decided to not to drink and now have given up which has been good for me this season," he said.

"I've been performing well during training and during the games so I think that's the difference, that's made it easier for me."

With the Wallabies searching for an enforcer with Wycliff Palu currently sidelined, Samo's form, impact and combination with Reds halfback Will Genia makes him a genuine No.8 selection option.

The two are close off the field also, even to the point Queensland teammates have playfully nicknamed the 172cm Genia `Rusi', after Samo's nine-year-old son.

"He is pretty much the same height and everyone calls him (Will) Rusi," he said. "In December he grew a bit of hair and because my son had an afro they started calling him Rusi.

"Will ended up cutting his hair, but the boys still call him Rusi."

One reason. Young Rusi Samo is such a big Genia fan he also shaved his head to continue to look more like his idol than his wild-haired dad.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

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