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4 days ago
New Zealand Warriors prop Richard Villasanti enjoyed his time with the Australian rugby league team, despite losing to New Zealand and missing the Great Britain internationals and being a victim of a player-theft drama.
Villasanti has rejoined the Warriors, admitting he is not in the best shape after "enjoying the good food and culture" during a post-tour holiday with his wife, Renee, in France and Spain.
"It was disappointing not to get a test after the Kiwis game, but I got plenty of experience in the other four matches," he said.
"I learned things from (coach) Chris Anderson that are different to what other coaches want in terms of where to place myself on attack and in defence, and the technique he wants in the tackle."
He had roomed with different players during the tour and learned a lot from them, not least Shane Webcke, generally regarded as the world's best prop.
"He takes training so hard you can see why he's rated there," Villasanti said.
There had not been big drinking sessions, something for which Anderson has copped criticism for allowing in the past.
"There was no curfew on us, but the boys were sensible."
There was little coverage of the row between Anderson and his club, the Sharks, in the British newspapers and the players were'nt aware of the daily developments widely reported in Australia, he said.
A theft problem that arose at the end of the tour ? with players claiming rooms in their Leeds hotel had been rifled, and money, a camera and a test jersey went missing ? was "a dead issue," Villasanti said.
"All the players were involved in the investigation, all of us were interviewed by the police and they gave the Australian Rugby League a report saying it wasn't a player."
Villasanti said he lost "a couple of items," but would not detail them.
Builders were working in the Leeds hotel while the team used it as a base.
Villasanti said none of the issues had soured his tour experience. He would like to press for a test spot again.
"But first it's the Warriors ? there's seven or eight guys here now pressing for a spot. I just want to regain the form I had at the end of last year."