Lote Daulako Tuqiri
- 783Wallaby Number
Lote Tuqiri was one of the biggest profile rugby league converts of all-time. A winger of the highest quality, Tuqiri played six State of Origin games, five test matches and won a premiership with the Brisbane Broncos before he switched codes and joined Australian rugby in 2003. Big, fast and strong, Tuqiri hit the ground running in his new code. In late February he made his Super Rugby debut with the New South Wales Waratahs against Auckland and by June had played his first Test, against Ireland in Perth.
Tuqiri proved indispensable to the side and when he played his 50th Test in late-2006 he had missed just two internationals in less than four years. As such he became the fastest, in terms of both Tests (52, still a record at end-2017) and time (3 years and 171 days, broken by Michael Hooper in 2015), to reach that mark in Wallaby history.
In July 2009 the Australian Rugby Union terminated their contract with Tuqiri, effective immediately and commented that the termination was a “standard employment matter”. Lote Tuqiri played 67 Tests and scored 30 tries in his impressive six year international rugby career.
Represented Australia in the IRB Sevens World Series.
Tuqiri won his first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Wendell Sailor on the right wing in the 45-16 victory over Ireland in Perth. He then made his run-on XV debut on the left wing in the 21-50 loss to New Zealand in Sydney. Tuqiri won selection to a first Rugby World Cup and scored his first Test try in the 90-8 pool game defeat of Romania in Brisbane. He and Nathan Sharpe were the only Wallabies to play all 14 Tests of 2003.
He started all 12 Wallaby internationals on the left wing and scored an Australian single season record of 10 tries, a number that was not broken until another league convert, Israel Folau, scored 12 in 2017.
Tuqiri dotted down four times in the one-off Test against Italy in Melbourne to become just the fifth Wallaby of all-time to score more than three tries in a single international. He missed the opening Test against Samoa but played in each of the remaining 12 matches, the last five of which he started at outside centre.
Tuqiri won 12 caps and only missed the 3rd Test, 16-24 loss to South Africa in Johannesburg due to a five match SANZAR-issued suspension for a dangerous tackle on All Blacks’ captain Richie McCaw. He played his 50th Test in the final match of the year, the 44-15 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.
Tuqiri missed the home series against Wales “to freshen up physically and mentally for the weeks ahead” but returned to play in eight of the final 10 Tests of the year. He won selection to his second Rugby World Cup and played in all five Australian matches.
Tuqiri played nine Tests but missed most of the Spring Tour as he made his way back from minor knee surgery. His final Test cap was won off the bench in the 18-21 loss to Wales in Cardiff.