Latu replaces injured Polota-Nau in Wallabies squad

Date published: September 22 2016

Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu is a surprise inclusion in Australia's 30-man squad for their upcoming tour of South Africa and Argentina.

This is Latu's first chance at a Wallabies berth under head coach Michael Cheika, after some promising form in Australia's National Rugby Championship.

Latu comes in for Tatafu Polota-Nau, who has been managing an arm injury for much of the season, and has been rested.

Meanwhile, Drew Mitchell has become the latest Europe-based Wallaby to return overseas after he was released from the squad.

The 32-year-old has featured just once for the Wallabies in 2016, coming off the bench in the Brisbane clash against South Africa, after struggling with a groin injury that kept him out of the final stages of the European season.

Rebels flyer Sefa Naivalu is one step closer to reaching his Wallabies dream, included in the travelling group after becoming eligible for Tests on September 18.

Ben McCalman will also remain at home, after overcoming a broken scapula, with the number eight left to gain some more game time in the NRC with the Perth Spirit, for whom he debuted last weekend.

That leaves Lopeti Timani and Sean McMahon as the main candidates to replace injured back-row David Pocock, who broke his hand against Argentina.

Injured prop Allan Alaalatoa looks a chance to be included in one of the two Tests, returning to the squad after a medial ligament injury suffered in Brisbane.

The 22-year-old missed the Argentina Test and looked doubtful for clash against the Boks in Pretoria, but will be heading to South Africa on Saturday, along with his Perth replacement, rookie Tom Robertson.

Cheika said he was giving Polota-Nau time to look after his fitness, after battling the niggle all year.

“It is disappointing for Tatafu, who has been one of the most consistent and valued members of our finishers off the bench, he needs time to get his body right and we respect that," he told the Australian Rugby Union's official website.

“We're happy with how Drew and Ben are progressing. The best thing for both players is to play some regular rugby to get themselves back to full form and fitness.

“With injury comes opportunity, and this is the opportunity now for Tolu to make his step up to International rugby.

"All our newly capped players this season have taken their chances with both hands and I expect Tolu to do the same, which should give all our fans confidence in the future.”

Will Genia is the last European Wallaby standing ahead of the three-week trip and the scrum-half has been one of the Wallabies' best in the Rugby Championship, after a seven-month layoff.

Reds scrum-half Nick Frisby has been added to the half-back stocks, looking to add to his two-Test tally, after being left out of the official Rugby Championship squads with Genia’s return.

Kyle Godwin, Will Skelton and Toby Smith have also dropped out of the squad that assembled in Perth last week.

Australia squad:

Forwards: Allan Alaalatoa (Brumbies), Rory Arnold (Brumbies), Adam Coleman (Force), Kane Douglas (Reds), Scott Fardy (Brumbies), James Hanson (Rebels), Michael Hooper (Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), Tolu Latu (Waratahs), Sean McMahon (Rebels), Stephen Moore (c) (Brumbies), Dean Mumm (Waratahs), Tom Robertson (Waratahs), Rob Simmons (Reds), Scott Sio (Brumbies), James Slipper (Reds), Lopeti Timani (Rebels)

Backs: Quade Cooper (Reds), Israel Folau (Waratahs), Bernard Foley (Waratahs), Nick Frisby (Reds), Will Genia (Stade Français), Dane Haylett-Petty (Force), Reece Hodge (Rebels), Samu Kerevi (Reds), Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies), Luke Morahan (Force), Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels), Nick Phipps (Waratahs), Henry Speight (Brumbies)