'I needed the change': Lukhan Salakaia-Loto savouring Wallabies return after Saints soul-searching

Tue, Jul 2, 2024, 9:55 PM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Mel Kawa, Joe Pincus and Alex Mafi welcome That's Right Rugby's first guests Sam Talakai and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto! After chatting all things Rebels the crew dive into Sam and Lukhan's background as players, their motivations and what advice they would give to their younger selves.

Returning Wallabies lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto is relishing his return to the Wallabies set-up as he pushes for a return for Saturday's Wales Test in Sydney.

Salakaia-Loto is back in the national squad as a stint overseas with English club Northampton Saints, learning off English great Courtney Lawes.

Tickets to the Wallabies 2024 Home Tests are available to purchase here.

The 27-year-old believes it was necessary to test himself in a different environment, having risen through the ranks of Queensland Rugby at a young age.

“I knew that in that time of my career back in 2021 I needed the change,” Salakaia-Loto said to reporters.

“I spent a big part of my career in Queensland and I got to the point where I needed a change and to do a bit of soul searching and overseas was the place for that.

“I knew I was going to come back at some stage but probably not as quick as it probably happened. I knew if I had gone away and chipped away at my craft, I’d come back a better player for it.”

Salakaia-Loto didn't doubt his ability and any possibility he wouldn't add to his 30 caps in the gold jersey.

However, the time away from the Australian set-up has the matured lock appreciating camp life a bit more this time around.

“Coming back a bit more older and mature, I think it’s something that I definitely haven’t taken for granted," he admits.

“I’m just taking each day as it comes and it’s good to be back with the boys that I’ve got a lot of time for and played a lot of Rugby with in the past.

“It’s good to be back and hopefully I can make my time this time around better.”

Salakaia-Loto has not featured on a Rugby field since April after breaking his foot.

"Probably Nela’s (Tupou) fault for throwing me up and not bringing me down,” he said and smiled about the injury.

“I’m fit and ready to go.”

His focus remains on getting back into the Wallabies squad despite not having a club confirmed for 2025 after the departure of the Rebels from Super Rugby.

“I’m right where my feet is and that’s in camp and that’s what I’m focused on," Salakaia-Loto added.

“Once I have an answer, I could probably give you a bit more clarity on that. But you never know, NBA is a pretty cool sport to get into (laughs).

“All options are open at the moment…I’m focused on trying to earn a spot on the team this weekend.”

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