Lote Tuqiri is confident Wests Tigers can win the Telstra Premiership in 2012 as long as the side has “some luck” at the business end of the season.
The experienced dual international winger says the Club has the side to lift the trophy after coming so close in the finals series over the past two seasons. Bookmakers have already installed Wests Tigers as the premiership favourites.
Tuqiri is feeling fresh after having a pin removed from his broken right arm that saw him play just 9 games this year. He also recently had an arthroscope on his left wrist to ensure he will be fine for the season opener against Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, March 4.
“It was a frustrating year for not only me but for the Club. We were touted as being up there with the favourites and were playing that way but then a fair few guys got busted (injured) and it held up what was a cohesive unit,’’ Tuqiri said.
“The guys that came in were really good. There are a lot of guys in the team now with first grade experience. It should hold us in good stead next year.
“If we can keep injury free, then hopefully we will be there at the pointy end. We are all just working really hard for it now. You have to take it week by week. You have to get through the first part of the season and then comes the rep stuff. We just need some luck and hopefully we will go well.”
Tuqiri said the added pressure of being premiership favourites would only make him play even better.
“We have a few older heads now that have experienced disappointment and the upside of winning a premiership,’’ he said.
“Adam Blair comes into the side and he will be a great addition. He will bring the experience of winning after playing in a great side like Melbourne.
“We have had the experience of some of the younger guys getting game time this year and last year. Players like Aaron Woods , Matt Groat and Ben Murdoch Masila will only improve.
“I know we have got the side here to do it and that’s what has been disappointing, especially this year with the injuries we had to players in key positions.
“I love to say we can win it next year but we have the team to do it. We have just got to be lucky.”
2012 MEMBERSHIP PACKAGES
Was just watching Lote on Bonstonkers videos and gee we missed the 2010 Lote Tuqiri
Really hope we can see that Lote next season as he adds such a new dimension to our backline when at his best
Hope he has one of his best years next year go u tigers.
Is this Lote’s last chance to win with Tigers? Glenn Jackson
December 13, 2011
LOTE TUQIRI returned to the NRL, via Wests Tigers, primarily to win his second premiership. And he conceded yesterday that next year may well be his final chance to do so.
Tuqiri is off contract at the end of next year, having returned to the NRL amid much fanfare for three seasons after his stint in rugby union. He will be 33 by the time season 2013 arrives, and thus is no guarantee to score an immediate extension to his deal.
The 32-year-old says: ‘‘I’ll play on somewhere, definitely.’’ But whether it is with the Tigers, or even in rugby league, he does not know yet.
‘‘I’ve got to go into this season and assess how I’m going,’’ Tuqiri said. ‘‘I’ve just got to have a good start, not think about that too much and go from there. But I think I’ve got a fair bit of footy left in me, whether it’s here or somewhere else, I don’t know.’’
Tuqiri has spoken openly of his desire to win again, after doing so in just his second season, with Brisbane in 2000, ever since he returned from Leicester Tigers to reinvigorate his NRL career with the Wests variety. And it remains the chief motivator.
‘‘I’ve been that close over the last couple of years,’’ Tuqiri said. ‘‘I’m running out of time to get another premiership. But we’ve got the side here to do it.’’
At present, many agree. The Tigers are favourites to win the title in 2012, having performed well in successive seasons and having picked up one of the game’s best forwards in Adam Blair.
‘‘It comes with the territory when you play in a good team,’’ he said. ''That’s what happens. A few times in my career, I’ve been playing in teams that are favourites. You’ve got to pump up every week to play. It makes me play better.
‘‘If we stay injury free, we’ll be hopefully there at the pointy end.’’
Tuqiri endured a frustrating year, not just the defeat by the Warriors in the semi-final, but having suffered a number of injuries throughout the season. He spoke yesterday, after educating a group of school-children about the perils of social networking on behalf of club sponsor Trend Micro, with a fresh cast around his left wrist.
Tuqiri has just had surgery on a wrist injury suffered during the season, which is likely to prevent him from playing in any of the Tigers’ trials. But he hopes that is the extent of his troubles. ‘‘Hopefully it’s all worked out and there are no complications,’’ Tuqiri said.
‘‘I’ll be hopefully right by the start of March.’’
The Tigers suffered this year because of some untimely injuries. But Tuqiri believes the flipside of that problem, the emergence of younger talent, would serve the club well next year. ‘‘It was a frustrating year for the club too,’’ Tuqiri said.
‘‘We were touted as being up there with the favourites, and we were playing that way. The guys who came in were really good and they held up the team, so I think that’ll hold us in good stead this year when we need back-up, because a lot of guys do have first-grade experience.’’