Polota-Nau straight back in as Tahs prepare for derby
Photo: RUGBY.com.au / Beth Newman
Returning hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau goes straight into the matchday squad for the NSW Waratahs in this weekend’s derby clash against the Queensland Reds at the SCG.
Having answered an SOS call from an injury and suspension hit Tahs to take a time out from his duties with English club side Leicester Tigers on loan, the 33-year-old is set to make his 143rd appearance for his home state off the bench on Saturday night.
With Tolu Latu ruled out for six weeks, potential prop-turned hooker Shambeckler Vui missing through injury, and several club players still adjusting to life at the next level, the chance to bring back a familiar face, and tap into the nous and experience of someone who has also packed down 83 times for the Wallabies, was a no-brainer for head coach Daryl Gibson.
“With some of the squad unavailable for selection due to injury we needed to look at who could immediately slot into the Super Rugby level competition and was a good fit with our squad… Tatafu fits the bill,” says Gibson.
“From a timing perspective it worked well with the Leicester Tigers calendar and we are currently finalising the paperwork. It’s a win-win for us and Tatafu, who’ll have the opportunity to get game time in front of the Australian coaches and selectors during this World Cup year.”
Video courtesy of NSW Media Unit
With one win from two so far in 2019, victory over the Reds would be a vital boost to the Waratahs’ Australian conference chances, as well as a popular win over an old foe. Aware of the dangers presented by a Queensland side that have performed well despite going down in their opening two games of the season, Gibson has reshuffled his deck again to unleash an all-Wallaby backline with Kurtley Beale at fullback and Israel Folau shifting to the wing.
“We are facing our oldest rival this week and we want to put out the strongest team we can,” said Gibson.
“The Reds are a very competitive unit, we saw that last weekend and saw that in their first game. We know what we’re in for. We know how important these derbies are from a conference standing, so there is plenty to play for.”
NSW WARATAHS v QUEENSLAND REDS, Saturday 9th March, SCG, 7.45pm
1. Harry Johnson-Holmes; 2. Damien Fitzpatrick; 3. Sekope Kepu; 4. Jed Holloway; 5. Rob Simmons; 6. Ned Hanigan; 7. Michael Hooper (c); 8. Jack Dempsey; 9. Jake Gordon; 10. Bernard Foley (vc); 11. Curtis Rona; 12. Karmichael Hunt; 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper; 14. Israel Folau; 15. Kurtley Beale
Replacements: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau; 17. Rory O’Connor; 18. Chris Talakai; 19. Lachlan Swinton; 20. Will Miller; 21. Mitch Short; 22. Mack Mason; 23. Alex Newsome