'I didn’t think I would come back': Sitaleki Timani embracing new lease on Wallaby life

Tue, 13/04/2021, 11:20 pm
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Sitaleki Timani poses for photos during Wallabies camp. Photo: Getty Images

Western Force lock Sitaleki Timani was content with finishing his career in France.

However, the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and family reasons saw the 34-year-old return home to Australia at the end of 2020.

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He had no idea whether he’d continue professional rugby until a phone call came from the Force.

“When we came back, we didn’t know if I’d play Super Rugby,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “We just wanted to come back and be in Australia especially around this difficult time.

“I had a year and half left on my contract with ASM and we told them (my agent) we’re coming back.

“I didn’t think anything would come up and we were quarantining in Perth and the Force contacted us so we just went from there.”

Last playing for the Wallabies in 2013, Timani fell in love with France as he plied his trade for Montpellier and ASM Clermont.

He conceded that he didn’t expect to return to Australia such was his affiliation with the lifestyle.

“At the start, I just wanted to go over and experience French rugby. We ended up loving the place and playing in Europe,” he added.

“I didn’t think I would come back to Australia. I thought I was going to stay there and finish my career. Then I had a chance to come back and be available for the Wallabies.”

Tim Anstee keeps the Western Force's finals hopes alive

Timani has impressed since linking up with the Force, joining mid-season as an injury replacement.

His hulking frame impressed Rennie and the Wallabies coaching staff, picked for the 40-man training squad.

He is still getting used to the quicker style of play in Super Rugby AU, however, Timani believes that his time in France has made him a better all-round player.

“I grew my game whilst I was over there, especially my set-pieces with my scrums, mauls and line-outs,” he said.

“Coming back, it’s different over here, a lot faster so I’ve been trying to find my feet and adjust to how they play here which is a good challenge for me.

“When I was playing in France, I was around 124kgs. When I come back here, I had to be lighter because there’s a lot of running and contact here and you have to be around the field more than in France.”

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Timani’s deal with the Force is up at the end of the season and whilst the 34-year-old is eager to continue, he admits that he needs to see how his body holds up.

“If the body is good then I can still go again,” Timnai hopes.

“It just depends on how I look after my body on and off the field.”

The Western Force will return to Perth and kick off round nine of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU, taking on the Waratahs at HBF Park, the home side will look to keep their finals hopes alive once they kick off at 7.45pm AEST, LIVE on Stan Sport and simulcast on 9Gem, click here to purchase tickets.

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