Coach Dwayne Nestor believes Wallaroos prop Liz Patu is highly motivated to win back respect with strong form in gold, following the biting incident that rubbed her out of Super W this year.
Patu was suspended for six weeks after pleading guilty to biting now-Wallaroos teammate Rebecca Clough on the arm in the Super W clash between Queensland and Western Australia in March.
The remorseful Patu, who is a former Wallaroos captain, apologised at the time and Nestor believes that action, and Clough’s forgiving attitude, ensured there was no lingering tension when the Wallaroos went into camp for their current Japan series.
Clough and Patu - the two most experienced Wallaroos - are both on the Wallaroos bench for the second Test against Japan on Friday night at North Sydney Oval, as they were in the first Test in Newcastle last weekend.
Nestor said he didn’t have to address the biting matter when they first gathered.
"I was in two minds, I didn’t know whether to 'ok do we have to blow up the white elephant in the room?' Or should we just let things slide?” Nestor told RUGBY.com.au.
"But it just hasn’t been an issue at all. It was dealt with and it's done.
"I think the good part of that situation was how Bec Clough dealt with it. For her, Liz spoke to Bec straight afterwards and they had a conversation and from then on, Bec was just like: “the judiciary is doing what they need to do and I have spoken to Liz, so as far as I am concerned it’s done.”
"Liz was good in that respect too because the six weeks (out of rugby) probably didn’t hurt her as much as the disappointment in herself and also her family.
"That cut deep with Liz so I think she learned a very big lesson in that regard. In camp, I might be oblivious to it, but it hasn’t been an issue at all.”
The lasting positive from a brief moment of madness is that Patu is now fired up to make amends, believes Nestor.
The loose head prop turned on some powerful ball running coming off the bench in the first Test in Newcastle, and also scrummaged and defended well.
"I have had quite a few conversations with Liz about that situation and it was good, because we developed a good relationship last year with Liz when she was captain, and she knows she has a fair bit of work to earn back the respect of those people she disappointed,” Nestor said.
"So I reckon she has a point to prove and I think she is itching for opportunities to do that.”
A fired-up and in-form Patu is good news for Nestor on another front, too, with the coach keen to have the Queenslander and starting Wallaroos no.1 Emily Robinson at war for the starting job.
“We want to create an environment where her and ‘Horse', Emily Robinson, are fighting tooth and nail to start. Because if we do that, the level of both their play is going to go through the roof and they’ll push each other,” Nestor said.
"There is a healthy level of competition between the two of them but I also think there is a bit of respect as well. They push each other quite well."
The Wallaroos take on Japan at North Sydney Oval on Friday night at 7pm. LIVE coverage on FoxSports and Kayo, and RUGBY.com.au Radio