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In a career spanning 15 seasons (and counting) two codes, and six clubs, Rabbitohs winger Lote Tuqiri has produced many magic moments at all levels of professional sport. By half-time of last Friday’s Qualifying Final victory over the Sea Eagles, Tuqiri had one more to add to his list.
In the 27th minute, Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds hoisted a massive cross-field bomb to the dual-international, who flew over Manly’s Jorge Taufua to score what would be one of the best of seven Souths four-pointers on the night.
“It was awesome to be on the end of that,” laughed Tuqiri.
“I was really proud of Adam Reynolds for putting it on the spot for me and giving me the chance.
“I’ve sort of re-lived it at different times over the weekend because people made a bit of a fuss out of it. So I guess that’s one that I’ll remember for a long time and something that’ll be in my personal list of highlights whenever I finish up.”
After a disjointed start to the 2014 season, Tuqiri – now just shy of his 35th birthday – has since started in the Rabbitohs’ last seven clashes thanks to some solid performances that bore all the hallmarks of his long and varied career – the veteran cementing a spot in the side’s potent back three alongside Greg Inglis and young-gun Alex Johnston as a result.
For Tuqiri – who has now scored six tries in his 14 appearances in the red and green – his recent run of form comes down to the infectious sense of confidence being built by his teammates.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Tuqiri.
“With the squad the way it is right now – everybody’s putting in and everybody’s putting their hand up to do the hard yards. Everyone’s looking to work for each other and that hunger is inspiring to me and I feel privileged to be playing with this group of players.
“We set the standards pretty high for ourselves all year, and when you’re constantly going after that, it builds a lot of confidence in the squad and within yourself. It definitely helps to push you along.”
The dual-international also heaped praise on the side’s forward pack for laying the platform for the side’s 2014 season – last week helping to result in a 40-24 victory over the Sea Eagles.
“They’ve been great,” said Tuqiri.
“They really got into the grind of that first game and they laid a great platform and set the tone for the game. They’ve been doing it all year.
Having advanced to week three of the NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series, the Rabbitohs will now enjoy a week off while awaiting the victor of this week’s elimination final between the Roosters and Cowboys – the victor set to take on the red and greens in a blockbuster on September 26 at ANZ Stadium.
But with plenty to work on following last week’s clash against the Sea Eagles after the north-siders put on 24 unanswered points in the final quarter of the game, Tuqiri says the week off will be all about hard work.
“We’ve obviously got to train hard this week,” said Tuqiri.
“There’s plenty to work on – we’ve got to concentrate on rectifying those last 15 minutes against Manly and that’s what this week is all about.
“We have a chance to get that all right in this next game, so in a sense, if anything it’s making us focus and conscious of what we need to do.”
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