Tatafu Polota-Nau
Position Hooker
Date of birth 26 July 1985
Height 181cm
Weight 114kg
Debut 2005 vs England, London
Caps 82

Biography

A powerful scrummaging hooker from Granville South High School, Tatafu Polota-Nau has proven to be a player of remarkable endurance despite a near-selfless tackling style that left him nursing more than his fair share of arm and head-related injuries. Raised in Sydney’s west, Polota-Nau brings a proud and strong Tongan heritage to his football. Interestingly he was a latecomer to rugby and only took up the game after he watched his older sister Moala play. His potential quickly became apparent, so much so that he co-captained the Australian Schools side within two years of his first ever match. A decorated aged representative career soon followed before he was chosen for his first Wallaby tour without having played a single Super Rugby match. From his 2005 debut against England at Twickenham, Polota-Nau missed 71 Tests over nine seasons before he became the 44th Wallaby to win 50 Test caps. It took him eight years and three hundred and five days to reach that milestone and in doing so he equaled the Australian record held by another hooker, former Wallaby captain Phil Kearns. Nonetheless, Polota-Nau has gone on to play at two Rugby World Cups and at the end of 2017 he was both Australia’s second-highest capped hooker and the Wallabies’ most capped replacement of all-time.

Highlights

2002
Represented Australian Schools as a blindside flanker against Tonga Schools and New Zealand Schools.

2003
Represented Australian Schools as a blindside flanker against Tonga Schools, Fijian Schools and New Zealand Schools.

2004
Selected in the Australian squad for the IRB U19s World Championship in South Africa.

2005
Selected in the Australian squad for the fourth-annual IRB U21 Rugby World Championships in Argentina. Polota-Nau won the IRB International U21 Player of the Year award. Despite having not yet played a single Super Rugby match he was chosen in the Wallabies’ Spring Tour squad and made his Test debut when he replaced Matt Dunning at loose head prop in the 16-26 loss to England at Twickenham.

2006
Selected in the Australian squad for the fifth-annual IRB U21 Rugby World Championships in France. He won just one Test cap in the year’s final international against Scotland at Murrayfield.

2007
Injury cost him the entire 2007 Test season after he tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

2008
A broken hand ruled him out of the first two Tests of the season against Ireland and France. He fought his way back into the squad winning seven Test caps for the year. Polota-Nau earned his first starting XV cap in the 3rd Test against South Africa in Johannesburg.

2009
Polota-Nau was selected in the match day squad for all 14 internationals and won a career high thirteen caps over the course of the year.

2010
Polota-Nau won the New South Wales Player’s Player of the Year award despite playing with spurs in his ankle, an injury that ultimately ruled him out of Test calculations arena for all but the final two internationals of the year.

2011
Surgery to his troublesome left knee following a tear to the meniscus saw Polota-Nau miss Australia’s first Tri Nations title for a decade however he did return in time to feature in all but one of the Wallabies’ matches at his first Rugby World Cup.

2012
Polota-Nau started at hooker in 12 of the year’s 15 Tests, just the second occasion to that point in which he reached double-digit appearances over a calendar year.

2013
He was ruled out for the majority of the Test season due to a broken arm and then multiple hamstring injuries. Polota-Nau was picked in the squad for the Spring Tour and earned two replacement caps in the wins over Ireland and Wales.

2014
Polota-Nau fell victim to the hookers’ injury curse which engulfed Australian rugby. Capped in each of the three domestic wins against France he suffered a medial ligament injury to his right knee in the Waratahs' triumphant 33-32 Super Rugby championship win over the Crusaders. He rushed back from the injury to start in the 1st Test victory over Argentina on the Gold Coast but ended the evening hobbled on crutches with an ankle problem. Despite a 32-25 win the injury was not the way to celebrate his 50th career Test cap.

2015
Selected in all 12 Test match squads for the year, Polota-Nau won 11 caps and was a crucial member of coach Michael Cheika’s “finishers” during the Wallabies memorable run to the Rugby World Cup final.

2016
He won caps off the bench in each of the year’s first seven Tests before he finally succumbed to a broken right forearm and missed the next eight internationals.

2017
Polota-Nau enjoyed a strong debut Super Rugby season with the Western Force to reclaim the starting hooker role in ten of his fourteen Tests.

International 2018 season

Tries 2
Points 10
Carries 27
Metres 29
Kicks In Play 1
Successful Tackles 21
Missed Tackles 6