Tui desperate to repay Cheika's faith

International
by Sam Phillips

While in some aspects it has been a frustrating year for Lukhan Tui, some time away from the game after a breakout year has been a blessing in disguise.

Tui has played just 93 minutes of Super Rugby this year in a season that has, to date, been plagued by injury and suspension.

Having enjoyed a breakout 2017 which reached a crescendo with a superb second half performance against the All Blacks in Brisbane, the lack of continuity has been frustrating for the 21-year-old.

But the time away from Ballymore has helped Tui on two fronts.

The first of those is returning to his club, Souths, where he has regained run in his legs over the past fortnight and made a second half cameo for the team's reserve grade outfit on Saturday.

"I think it's important to not go back to club with the mind that you know better," Tui told RUGBY.com.au.

"I've learnt so much down there and it can only help improve my game.Tui is ready to turn a frustrating start to the season around. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"It's good to get some wins on the board and play with some of the boys I'm good mates as well."

The second aspect in which time away has helped Tui develop relates to the mental side of the game.

Learning how he could contribute to the Reds and keep a positive mindset while battling injury has been a blessing in disguise.

"It's been frustrating and probably one of the hardest times I've had," he said.

"But it's actually been a blessing in disguise.

"It's allowed me to work on myself off field and get myself right on field.Tui is a big chance of featuring in the 23 that will face Ireland on Saturday. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley"Mentally and spiritually just working on myself because I've been away from footy for so long.

"Being around the Reds guys like Samu (Kerevi), guys like him have just been helping me and working with him, I feel better about it all now."

Now that he's back in tip top shape both on and off field, Tui is determined to repay the faith shown by coach Michael Cheika in naming him as part of this squad.

"There is trust and faith that has been built there and like I said before I'm blessed and grateful that he has given me this opportunity," Tui said.

"It's something I don't take lightly and I'm going to repay the faith - not having much form or game time coming in.

"Some people will say it's a risk and some people will say I shouldn't be here but he thinks differently and I'm just working hard for the boys and picking up where I left off is something I'm looking to do."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in a three-Test June Series, kicking off on Saturday June 9 at 8pm AEST. Buy tickets here.