Wallabies flanker Ned Hanigan says teammate Lukhan Tui was brave to even play against the Pumas on Saturday and said his angry reaction to fan abuse was ‘reasonable’ after a difficult week.
The Wallabies team wore black armbands for Tui’s stepfather when they played the Pumas and were trying to support him as much as they could in the lead up to the match.
Hanigan wasn’t at the coal face when the scuffle broke out between Tui and an angry fan but he was in the sheds when his teammate stood up in front of the group and admitted he was considering taking some time out.
Tui is almost definitely set to miss the Wallabies’ South Africa-Argentina tour as his family prepares for his stepfather’s funeral but he is yet to make an official call on whether he will return to the team in 2018.
Hanigan praised Tui for his bravery in even taking the field after a tumultuous week and being direct when it came to his rugby future.
“I think the general feeling from us as a group, that whole week we were just there for him,” he said.
“Obviously that time, it'd be extremely tough and I just felt deeply sorry for the bloke.
“I think it was more (there was) an understanding from us when he got up and he did it so forward and told everyone (he was considering taking time out).
“I've got a lot of respect for that bloke and he showed a hell of a lot of courage to go out on Saturday night and for a bloke to come out of the crowd and say what he said to him, I think the reaction he gave is probably a reasonable one.”
The aftermath from Tui’s scuffle has in some ways has overshadowed the disastrous loss the Wallabies suffered on the Gold Coast but Hanigan said it was well and truly still in his thoughts.
“It's probably something that's in the back of my mind a little bit because it's hit home,” he said.
“I don't think I've ever been in a shed that's been so solemn.
“It's hard to rock that feeling but the important thing is that we rock up on Saturday and we've got an opportunity.
“I know we say it a little bit but we've got an opportunity to go over there to Africa and Argentina on an away tour and stamp our foot on the Rugby Championship.”
Hanigan said the side was desperate to ensure they showed their fans that they still ‘cherished’ the Wallabies jersey after criticisms of their efforts.
“Our main thing at the moment is to display a performance on the field that they can be proud of,” he said.
“We know if we play that way we're going to get the results.
“We've got an identity piece that we hang up and we've probably gone away from that over the last couple of weeks and I think really going back to that and driving that home (is important) and it's an opportunity in this away tour that it's just us over there.
“The families that are getting up and supporting us at crazy hours of the morning when we're playing, we want them to see on the TV screens at home what that Wallaby jersey stands for and we don't want to be accused of not cherishing or anything ever again.”
The Wallabies take on South Africa on Saturday September 29 in Port Elizabeth, kicking off on Sunday at 1:05am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.