Lote Tuqiri may only have been at Redfern for a season, but the experienced campaigner is in no doubt that the improvement in mental toughness at the Club has played a vital role in the Rabbitohs’ progression to the Grand Final.
Tuqiri pointed to last week’s Preliminary Final victory over the Roosters as a prime example, when the side stayed composed in the face of an early 12-0 score-line to take the match by 32-22.
“That’s been a big shift this year in what we’ve been doing,” said Tuqiri.
“Obviously I wasn’t here last year, but I don’t know if mentally a lot of teams could’ve come back given the Roosters’ 12 point lead.
“It was (an amazing performance), but more-so to play that way in a semi. To come back from 12 points down – we’ve grown mentally heaps here in the last year I think.”
Tuqiri will play in his second NRL Grand Final on Sunday, 14 years after helping the Brisbane Broncos to victory in 2000 against the Roosters. For the 35 year old, winning that decider is a memory that has never left him.
“I do (remember the feeling), it was awesome – and sort of what happened after,” said Tuqiri.
“I was just lucky to be in a team that had that many super-stars at the time. I pinch myself at times to sort of think that I played in such a good team and this is similar.
“We’ve got guys that are probably going to get to that stage in their career – in the not too distant future.”
To watch the full interview, please press play on the video player.