Veteran centre Brent Tate has admitted to feeling lingering disappointment over his World Cup axing but says he’s desperate to reclaim a Kangaroos spot.
Tate started the tournament as Australia’s first-choice right centre but was overlooked for the quarter-final victory over the United States, with Tim Sheens opting to play Jarryd Hayne out of position.
Hayne took his chance with a spectacular four-try performance and will keep his place, but an injury to Billy Slater could open the door for Tate to return in Saturday’s semi-final against Fiji, either at left centre or even off the bench.
Tate is unsure about his chances of a recall but is focused on doing everything he can in training to impress, admitting his dumping had him down for several days.
“At the end of the day, it’s one thing to come over here but we all want to be playing in the big games,” Tate told AAP on Monday.
“I was really disappointed but, after a couple of days of kicking stones, you’ve just got to get on with it.
“Hopefully there’s a chance there for someone, whether it’s me there (left centre) or on the bench.”
With Inglis set to switch from the centres to fullback in Slater’s absence, Josh Morris, Michael Jennings or Tate will fill the left-side role.
As specialist left centres, Morris and Jennings appear to have the inside running on Tate but there is speculation Sheens could try the North Queensland veteran off the bench after a lack of depth in the outside backs was exposed when Slater was injured against the US.
Tate said he would be comfortable playing in any role the coach saw fit.
“I’d play in the front row if he wanted me to,” Tate said.
Just making it to the World Cup has been a remarkable achievement for 31-year-old Tate after repeated injury setbacks but the true competitor inside him doesn’t want to settle for simply being part of the squad.
“A couple of people have said ‘it’s great you’ve got back’, which it is, but you still want to be part of the big stuff,” Tate said.
“Unless you’re playing those big games, you always have that sort of half-empty feeling.
“… I missed the 2008 (World Cup) final with a quad strain so it’d be nice to be able to play in one, that’s for sure.”
Should Sheens be willing to experiment with his squad one game out from the final, it is conceivable Morris, Jennings and Tate could all play against Fiji.
The coach is considering playing Morris at left centre and giving Jennings a chance to impress on the wing in place of Darius Boyd.
Despite a stellar year with the Sydney Roosters, Jennings has played in only one of Australia’s four World Cup games.
He revealed Sheens had spoken to him about possibly playing on the wing and he’d happily play in either role.
“I’m seeing this as an opportunity – the door’s open now,” Jennings said.
“The whole time I’ve been here, I’ve been grateful that I’ve been given this opportunity so it’d be good to get another shot at playing.”