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Palu grateful for McKenzie's faith

04th June 2014 09:00

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Wycliff Palu Wallabies profile

From League to 50 caps: Wycliff Palu

Wycliff Palu will play his 50th Test for the Wallabies on Saturday, ten years after Ewen McKenzie convinced him to cross codes.

The Waratahs number eight says he is desperate to repay the faith in the current Australia coach, not only for bringing him to the XV-man game but also for his backing this weekend.

Palu admitted that Ben McCalman and Scott Higginbotham are "absolutely killing it" in Super Rugby and could easily have taken his starting berth against France this weekend.

McKenzie has explained it was Palu's physicality and maturity that earned him selection against les Bleus in Brisbane and Palu said he would sticking to his natural game.

"Ever since [McKenzie] has coached me it's always been to bring what I've got," Palu told AAP.

"He's never told me, 'You can't play this certain style, you can't do this, you can't do that.' He's just let me express myself. I will forever be grateful to him."

It was McKenzie who had the vision to sign an oversized League prop from St George Illawarra and put him in the Waratahs back row that made it to the 2005 Super Rugby Final.

"If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be sitting here," explained Palu.

"He gave me that opportunity and rugby is all about opportunity.

"I was playing rugby league and he gave me one. I just want to repay the favour by playing well.

"I just looked at it and thought rugby would suit me better. When I went to rugby league I weighed 126 kilograms, and there's not too many 126-kilogram rugby league players running around."

"I just can't believe how fast it's gone; they told me back then I looked 31, and I'm 31 now..and I think I'm a bit fitter."

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