Polota-Nau returns for Wallabies

Date published: September 9 2014

Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau returned to Australia's starting XV as coach Ewen McKenzie beefed up his pack.

Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau returned to Australia's starting XV from injury as coach Ewen McKenzie beefed up his pack to face Argentina's fearsome scrum at the Gold Coast this weekend.

Polota-Nau makes his long awaited return to the Wallabies line-up having fully recovered from an MCL injury he sustained in the Waratahs Super Rugby Final victory on August 2.

He will also will celebrate his milestone 50th Test in his ninth season of Test rugby, having made his international debut for Australia against England at Twickenham in 2005.

McKenzie congratulated Polota-Nau on the achievement.

“Tatafu has been a true servant to the game of rugby in Australia for a long time and I couldn't be more pleased to see him earn his milestone 50th game for the Wallabies this week,” he said.

“I've known Tatafu for a long time and he is guy who puts his body on the line each and every week for the benefit of the team. He gives it his all every time he takes the field and is also an outstanding team-mate off it.

“I think I speak for everyone when I congratulate Tatafu on this significant accomplishment.”

His inclusion is one of three changes made to the starting XV for what is Australia's first match of a two-game series for the Puma Trophy against Argentina.

The two other changes see Western Force number eight Ben McCalman preferred to Scott Higginbotham at number eight in place of the injured Wycliff Palu (concussion) and Waratahs wing Peter Betham comes in for Adam Ashley-Cooper (neck).

“It's always hard to replace the experience guys such as Wycliff and Adam bring to the game, but their injuries now open the door for Ben and Peter to get an opportunity on Saturday night,” added McKenzie.

“Ben is no stranger to the international arena and we feel he has certain characteristics which will suit the team for the beginning of the match. He'll set the tone early with his high work-rate and provide a good balance for what we'll be looking for from our backrow as a group.

“We'll also then have the benefit of being able to call on Scott and Matt from the bench late in the game. We have strong thoughts on how we want our 'finishers' to play and they all have defined roles in how we want to close out the match.

“We saw that with both guys making a significant difference to the outcome of the match against South Africa. That's exactly what we want, and we will be hoping for more of the same against Argentina.

“We had a few options on the wings with Joe Tomane returning and Tom English also available, but ultimately we feel Peter has done everything right to earn another chance.

“We've all been extremely impressed with his attitude and approach to the Wallaby environment on and off the field this year. We look forward to seeing what he will bring to the match.”

For a second straight week McKenzie has again opted for a forward-heavy 6-2 split on the bench.

The return of Reds hooker James Hanson to the replacements is the only change from to the make-up of the bench which made a significant impact in securing a late match-winning try against South Africa at the weekend.

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Matt Hodgson, 22 Nic White, 23 Kurtley Beale.

Date: Saturday, September 13
Kick-off: 20:05 local (11:05 BST, 10:05 GMT)
Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
Assessor: Donal Courtney