Tui's Test debut rollercoaster

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Not even a dodgy haircut could spoil Lukhan Tui’s excitement leading up to his Test debut.

The 21-year-old always gets a trim pre-game and while this cut didn't go , the jitters subsided when he was called upon in the 61st minute.

The next 20 minutes was a blur as the match pushed towards a grandstand finish but as the final siren sounded, an overwhelming sense of disappointment enveloped Tui’s memories of his first Test.

“It was the first draw I’ve been a part of and it was more so disappointing,” Tui said at the team’s hotel in Buenos Aires.

“We have enormous potential to be the world’s best.

“It wasn’t the result we were looking for.

“It’s disappointing because we felt we improved from the weeks before and you see throughout the game there was a lot of positives to take out of it.

“It was just a really hard pill to swallow not coming away with the win for the second time.

“We definitely felt we were good enough to come away with the win but unfortunately we’ve drawn twice with South Africa - they’re a very good side.”

Tui certainly held his own in his first taste of Test footy.

He carried with archetypal strength, made his impact known defensively and helped coordinate a lineout that held its own against a formidable Boks pack.

“It was real good to be able to get the opportunity to don the green and gold. It was pretty surreal,” Tui said.

“I went out there and it was good to get that experience and be out there with the boys - with guys I never imagined I’d be alongside.

“Hopefully I can get the opportunity this week.”

Now that he has that taste, Tui will be putting his hand up to pack down alongside Adam Coleman as good mate, fellow young gun and Reds teammate Izack Rodda did against South Africa.

“Now I’ve got a little taste it’s really motivated me to really try and consistently be in the 23 and to hopefully crack the starting XV,” he said.

“Seeing Izack there is good - I’m very happy for him and very proud of him.

“It’s credit to his hard work and what he’s done for the season for the Reds.

“Hopefully I can replicate that.”

Tui’s chances of forming a consistent part of that 23 will be bolstered should he prove he is capable at blindside flanker.

His carry-centric game suits the backrow and that’s a challenge the 21-year-old is relishing, having played No. 8 in his first rugby match three years ago.

“I was there so I could carry the ball but as time went on I grew too tall,” Tui said.

“It’s a challenge that I’m more than happy to take on.

“Six is something that I enjoy watching around the world play and it’s something that I’d love to play.

“Whether it be six, outside-centre or fullback for the Wallabies I’d be more than happy to play wherever (Cheika) wants me to play.”

The Wallabies take on the Pumas in Mendoza on Sunday October 8, kicking off at 9:40am AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.