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‘Fool’ lashed for ‘ordinary’ Wallabies sledge
Morgan Turinui has hit back at Brandon Smith’s Wallabies sledge, saying he was ignorant to the impact an NRL convert could have in international rugby.
Smith was at his cheeky best when addressing teammate Joseph Suaalii’s code hop on Sunday, declaring that “a $1.6 million winger from the Roosters isn’t going to help beat the All Blacks.”
But former Wallaby Turinui begged to differ while pointing to several examples from his own playing days.
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“Brandon Smith opens his mouth and confirms what we’ve always thought of him,” Turinui said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.
“The old saying, attributed to the (Abraham) Lincolns and Mark Twains, ‘if you’re a fool and you keep your mouth shut, you’re probably better off than opening your mouth and confirming to everyone that you are.’ Like, let’s be frank – Jason Robinson wins a World Cup with England, league convert, Lote Tuqiri is outstanding, league convert, Dell (Wendell Sailor) does well, (Mat) Rogers does well, league converts have done well.
“They’ve been successful against the All Blacks or whoever it is. Joseph Suaalii is a fine footballer who will make the Wallabies better.”
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Smith also took aim at Rugby Australia’s strategy by saying “$1.6 million could’ve been spent better on the grassroots of rugby.”
But Turinui argued that the 19-year-old outside back had the ability to more than justify the price tag by putting bums on seats, selling merchandise and generally lifting the profile of rugby.
“I don’t think it’s as simple as ‘let’s steal this money off the kids and put it over there.’ We’re not saying Brandon Smith’s $600,000 contract is taking money off the Paddo colts. So why is it different in rugby?”
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Another former Wallaby, Stephen Hoiles, agreed that the Suaalii signing made sense for RA and was frustrated by the snipes from Smith and others.
“The league attack on union from the players, it always irritates me as a boy who grew up playing both,” Hoiles said.
“Like we sit here, we love our league. We watch it, we talk about it, when Australia play rugby league, I support the Kangaroos.
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“I don’t think league guys are the same. I think they really dislike rugby. I don’t know why… it just seems like it’s the cool thing to do to bag rugby. I found that a bit ordinary.”
Former Australian sevens assistant coach Hoiles has long been aware of Suaalii’s talents, having watched him go toe-to-toe against hardened world series players.
“He came to an Australian sevens session three or four years ago, and we went full on, live,” Hoiles recalled.
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“It was contact and I remember he got himself over the ball and Lewis Holland came and checked him and bumped him off the ball. Not too hard, but enough to let him know that he’s just lost his own ball. Lewis picked up and played on and I just watched this young kid who, we already knew was going to be the next big thing.
“I watched his reaction. He was so angry at himself for that, like he thought he was in the right position, but the background of what he’s played, he’s played rugby his whole life. He understands that…
“He’ll fill out every stadium six months before the British and Irish Lions come here (in 2025). People will be buying gold scarves like they used to 20 years ago at big Test matches. I think it’s money well spent.”
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