Former Brumby comes of age on international stage
Sitaleki Timani of the Wallabies gets tackled by Duane Vermeulen of the Springboks on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images
If you'd followed Sitaleki Timani's journey through three Super Rugby franchises you could never have predicted what a profound loss the giant lock will be for the Wallabies this week against Argentina.
Man of the match in Australia's 26-19 win over South Africa in Perth on Saturday night, it was fitting that Timani starred in a city where he was unwanted back in 2008.
Despite his obvious physical attributes, Timani was shown the door at the Western Force after just three appearances. He failed to get much of a look in at the ACT Brumbies over the next two seasons either.
The Tongan-born powerhouse has called the NSW Waratahs home since 2011, but even then he's mostly been consigned to the reserves bench.
In what was a disappointing start for Australia in the Rugby Championship against New Zealand, Timani was the one shining light - his significant presence included putting a rattling shot on All Blacks intimidator Sonny Bill Williams.
Timani will miss the clash with Argentina on the Gold Coast due to a low-grade hamstring strain. There's an argument to say his impact will be as heavily missed as skipper Will Genia (knee), and that explains what a revelation the 25-year-old has been.
''Probably his route [to Test level has been most impressive]. He's been at three franchises and none of them have opted to start him routinely, which astounds me,'' coach Robbie Deans said. ''But he's shown he's more than ready for that. He's looking more and more comfortable in that role. And when he gets comfortable, as you saw, he's got some obvious physical attributes that he brings to the game.''
Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe said Timani's power game was unique for an Australian forward.
''It's not often that guys come straight into Test football and pick that up, sometimes it does take a little bit of time and I think Sita's a guy who has found his niche there and maybe playing a role that's not so traditional for an Australian second-rower,'' Sharpe said. AAP