Qantas Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau will celebrate his milestone 50th Test for Australia during Saturday night’s Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship clash against Argentina at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
Polota-Nau makes his long awaited return to the Wallabies line-up having fully recovered from an MCL injury he sustained in the NSW Waratahs historic Super Rugby Final victory on August 2.
Polota-Nau reaches the 50-game mark in his ninth season of Test Rugby, having made his international debut for Australia against England at Twickenham in 2005.
Qantas Wallabies coach Ewen 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,” McKenzie 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 teammate 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 No.8 Ben McCalman and NSW Waratahs winger Peter Betham take the place of experienced and injured Qantas Wallabies duo Wycliff Palu (concussion) and 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,” McKenzie said.
“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 Queensland 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.
Tickets for Saturday night’s clash against Argentina on the Gold Coast start from $25 and are available via Ticketek.
The Qantas Wallabies side to play Argentina in the next Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and The Puma Trophy clash at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday 13 September is:
1. James Slipper (vc - Queensland Reds)
2. Tatafu Polota-Nau (NSW Waratahs)*
3. Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
4. Sam Carter (ACT Brumbies)
5. Rob Simmons (Queensland Reds)
6. Scott Fardy (ACT Brumbies)
7. Michael Hooper (c - NSW Waratahs)
8. Ben McCalman (Western Force)
9. Nick Phipps (NSW Waratahs)
10. Bernard Foley (NSW Waratahs)
11. Rob Horne (NSW Waratahs)
12. Matt Toomua (ACT Brumbies)
13. Tevita Kuridrani (ACT Brumbies)
14. Peter Betham (NSW Waratahs)
15. Israel Folau (NSW Waratahs)
16. James Hanson (Queensland Reds)
17. Pek Cowan (Western Force)
18. Ben Alexander (ACT Brumbies)
19. James Horwill (Queensland Reds)
20. Scott Higginbotham (Melbourne Rebels)
21. Matt Hodgson (Western Force)
22. Nic White (ACT Brumbies)
23. Kurtley Beale (NSW Waratahs)
*50th game for Australia
The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship match between Australia and Argentina on the Gold Coast is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of a growing calendar of sporting events throughout the state.