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Tuqiri Loss No Drama For Wallabies, Says Smith

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Wayne Smith. Pic: NZPA
Wayne Smith. Pic: NZPA

By Chris Barclay of NZPA

Auckland, July 14 NZPA - All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith doubts Lote Tuqiri's fall from grace will cloud the Wallabies' focus as they prepare for the Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup rugby test here at Eden Park on Saturday.

Quizzed today on the 67-test winger's sudden axing by the Australian Rugby Union, Smith said the Wallabies would present a united front when they seek their first win in Auckland since 1986.

Tuqiri's sacking on July 1 has been followed by innuendo and speculation. The reason has not been made public because the termination of his contract, apparently due to a breach of discipline, is subject to legal action.

There have been suggestions Tuqiri's demise has angered some former teammates although a succession of Wallabies players have emphasised the matter has not been a distraction.

Smith agreed, saying if anything the issue would harden Australia's resolve.

"In my experience (adversity) tightens a group up," he said after the All Blacks trained at Eden Park.

"It creates a more unified team."

Smith cited the example of the All Blacks' Tri-Nations campaign in 2003, an ultimately triumphant exercise, briefly jeopardised by a pay dispute over World Cup performance bonuses.

The New Zealand Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association were at loggerheads over the amount All Blacks would receive if they won that year's World Cup, before an agreement was reached.

"In the midst of that they won by 50-odd in South Africa (52-16) and 40-odd in Aussie (50-21)," Smith said.

"That's an example of how you can tighten as a group."


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