Wallabies bank on Tuqiri at 13

A new look Australia backline will feature Lote Tuqiri at outside-centre.

Media reports last week suggested that Matt Giteau and Mark Gerrard would form the halfback combination, while Stephan Larkham would play at inside-centre.

The former league player has experience in the position having filled the role for both the NSW Waratahs and the Wallabies.

Tuqiri’s shift from wing to the midfield comes as a result of a knee injury which has ruled tour captain Sterling Mortlock out of the Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on 4 November.

Australia coach John Connolly praised Tuqiri’s versatility and was confident that the 27-year-old had the aptitude to succeed in the No 13 jersey.

“With Stirling injured, it’s probably fair to think that Lote may move in one,” Connolly told reporters at their Coffs Harbour training camp.

“He probably prefers the wing a little bit more but he’s a pretty good player. He can play anywhere.”

Whether the Larkham/Tuqiri midfield combination will be effective is a moot point but given the former’s penchant for creating space for his outside backs and the latter’s fondness for exploiting holes in the opposition defence, the duo have the potential to be devastating.

Speculation has been rife that Tuqiri is planning a return to his league roots with his former club the Brisbane Broncos and he recently added weight to the rumours by saying that he would decide his playing future in the next six months.

Connolly however said he believed Tuqiri was committed to the Wallabies.

“I think he wants to stay,” Connolly said. “He’s important obviously, as all stars are in any code, whether it’s Lote or whoever.”

The Australian squad leaves for Europe on Friday.