Tuqiri turns back time in Barbarians clash
DUAL rugby league and rugby union international Lote Tuqiri turned back the clock with a try-scoring effort for the Classic Wallabies in front of 2950 people at Crozier Field, Lismore, on Tuesday.
Tuqiri, 38, was a late arrival for the Classic Wallabies but got the ball rolling, scoring their first try of the game in a hard-fought 27-24 loss against the Alan Jones-led international Barbarians.
"I only got here today (Tuesday) and had one little training session with no shoes and a pair of sunglasses on,” Tuqiri said.
"I haven't scored a try for a long time and I'm glad I got through that game unscathed.
"I was really nervous at the start but once I had my first run and made a few tackles that competitive side came back out.
"After scoring that try I was having conversations with people in the crowd and loving it. I think we put on a decent show and hopefully everyone goes home happy.”
Former Australian players Adam Freier, Drew Mitchell, Radike Samo and Morgan Turinui all made impressive efforts for the Classic Wallabies.
Try-scoring doubles to five-eighth Sam Greene and fullback Tom Banks highlighted the win for the Barbarians while Murwillumbah junior Richie Arnold also scored a try.
Mitchell captained the Classic Wallabies from fullback, playing in his first competitive game since June.
The 33-year-old was heavily involved in the backline with Turinui in the centres while Samo made a number of impressive defensive efforts for a 41-year-old in the second-row.
"We got a lot closer than we anticipated and it was all about working hard for each other,” Mitchell said.
"It's all instinctive play in these sort of games and they (Barbarians) obviously have younger legs and managed to sneak past us.
"I know it's time for me to hang up the boots on a week-to-week basis but any time there is opportunity to play in something like this I put my hand up.”
Brothers Alex and Matt Gibbon are Wollongbar-Alstonville juniors and got the chance to play big minutes for the Classic Wallabies while Pioneers hooker Bill Johnston on the bench.
Alex Gibbon provided one of the highlights of the game when he took an intercept and raced away to score a 50m individual try.
"I've been watching Alex in the National Rugby Championship and he's a guy that does everything at 100 per cent,” Mitchell said.
"He's got a good engine and he gets up and does the double efforts.
"When you're an older guy you feed off that sort of enthusiasm and it's great for local players to see that.”
Barbarians captain Quade Cooper was ruled out of the game on Monday night and was forced to settle for waterboy duties.