Lote Tuqiri says he remains a part of Souths’ NRL plans despite spending the majority of the season in reserve grade.
Dual international Lote Tuqiri insists his rugby league career is far from finished despite battling away in reserve grade.
The South Sydney winger was solid in the Rabbitohs’ round 14 win over Wests Tigers but after last weekend’s bye Nathan Merritt and Alex Johnston have been preferred on the flanks by coach Michael Maguire for Saturday’s trip to North Queensland.
Tuqiri, 35, joined Souths on a one-year deal at the start of the year. He has played five NRL games, spending the majority of the year playing with the Rabbitohs’ feeder club North Sydney.
But the former Kangaroos and Wallabies flyer insists he remains a part of Maguire’s plans in the run-in to the finals.
“I’m not here to make up the numbers, I am here to play, and hopefully start in first grade. I am here to press my claims,” Tuqiri told AAP.
“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t thinking like that. So I just have to put my best foot forward.
“It is a pity guys have been injured over the past few weeks but I just have to grab any opportunity with both hands.”
A candid Tuqiri said it had been tough at times playing with the Bears.
“It has been up and down, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster,” he said.
“It was tough initially. I am not going to lie but I have enjoyed myself back in NSW Cup.
“There are a lot of guys having a go, coming through and I have been enjoying myself.
“I have to think about things differently, how to approach a game and everything else.
“But now I don’t really mind, it has been good for me.”
Asked if he felt he had played on a season too long the veteran of 156 NRL games with Brisbane, Wests Tigers and Souths and 67 matches with the Wallabies between 2003 and 2009, Tuqiri said: “Oh mate, you are putting words in my mouth. I am happy where I am at the moment, I am enjoying being part of the Rabbitohs and also going back to the Bears.
“Souths are a team going forward and they have been for the past couple of years. I wanted to go to a team at the tail end of my career having some success.
“They certainly have had some success but they haven’t got over that hump late in the season. Hopefully I can be a part of that – I am already a part of it.”