One of Australia’s first choice hookers and a favourite with NSW fans, Tatafu Polota-Nau will pull on the light blue of Parramatta for the first time in nearly three years this Saturday when the Western Sydney side take on Randwick in the ABC game of the week. Spectators at Manly Oval also look set for a treat, with the expected appearance of fellow NSW hardman, Wycliff Palu, set to make an impact from the Manly bench as he too bids to bag some bye week game time.
Never short of passionate rugby fans, Coogee Oval will see Polota-Nau pull on a two blues jersey for the first time since July 2010 when he takes to the field at 3pm.
Now a veteran of 98 NSW and 44 Test matches, Polota-Nau has been sidelined for two weeks and will use the Shute Shield to regain some match fitness as he vies for selection for the HSBC Waratahs big home clash against the Chiefs next Friday.
Pleased to be returning to the club where he says it all began, the popular hooker said, “I still remember when I got the call up into firsts’ colts in my first year playing for Parra but little did I know that the next year I would be lucky enough to be selected in the first grade side.”
Although he has since moved closer to the HSBC Waratahs’ Moore Park base, Taf insists on visiting his club team once a month for board meetings and, he says, “to keep a keen eye on the team that brought me to where I am now.”
“I am definitely excited to see what Parra have to offer this year. There has been a lot of talk about them in the trials and it’s good to see them bounce back from a rough period last year.”
Randwick however won’t be an easy opposition. Hungry after last week’s disappointing last-minute loss to Wests, the Galloping Greens are hunting for a second round win, with star back rower and captain Seilala Lam and hooker Nio Halangahu looking fit and ready to serve up some ruthless defence against the hard running Parramatta forwards.
Relishing a return to club rugby, Polota-Nau says one of the greatest qualities of Shute Shield rugby is the ability to play some top level footy and enjoy every second of it. “Each week, 15 good mates take the field in a test of mental and physical endurance; it’s one of the aspects I respect so much about the sport and this competition.”
Round two kicks off on Friday night at North Sydney Oval as Norths take on Warringah. On Saturday afternoon, Penrith host Gordon at Nepean Rugby Park, Souths take on Easts at Forshaw, Uni welcome Eastwood and Manly pit themselves against the Pirates at Manly Oval.
Round two will definitely bring a mixture of passion, aggression, talent and stamina as Eastwood, Randwick, Parramatta, Easts, Gordon and Penrith all take the field eager for a victory to get them on the board.
“One of the unique things about this competition is the ability to shake hands and enjoy a drink after the game, you don’t see it in many sports but it’s one of the main reasons we love coming back to it,” said Polota-Nau.
The 2013 competition will be broadcast live on ABC1 throughout NSW and the ACT on Saturdays from 3pm. Interstate viewers can watch a full replay of each week’s Shute Shield game at 3.30am on Tuesday mornings on ABC1 nationally and rugby fans everywhere can catch all the action online at anytime on ABC iView.
Alternatively, rugby fans across NSW can tune in to ABC Local Radio’s new rugby show, Settling the Score with Niav Owens between 2pm and 5pm every Saturday, for all of your country rugby and Shute Shield news. You can TEXT the program with score updates from whichever game you're at on 0467 920 222 every Saturday afternoon. Make sure your team gets a mention each week and keep Niav up to date with the latest scores from your competition.
A full fixtures list, together with weekly previews and all the results can be found at www.nswrugby.com.au. Rugby fans can also follow the Shute Shield on Facebook via www.facebook.com/shuteshield or www.facebook.com/abcshuteshield where you can catch game highlights and a preview of the upcoming ABC TV match, and on Twitter via @shuteshield or @abcshuteshield where you can send your thoughts through the week and receive live updates during selected games. You can also catch highlights of every round on the ShuteShieldTV channel on YouTube.
Northern Suburbs v Warringah @ North Sydney Oval (7.30pm, Friday April 12)
Northern Suburbs: 1 Nic Curtis, 2 Will Weeks, 3 Cruz Ah Nau, 4 Matt White, 5 Michael O’Hea, 6 Ben Matwijow, 7 AJ Gilbert (captain), 8 Hugh Sinclair, 9 Liam Walker, 10 Scott Daruda, 11 Corey Brown, 12 Lachlan Porteous, 13 Bill Meakes, 14 Liam Windon, 15 Cam Crawford
Warringah: 1 Ben Ryan, 2 Robert Kelly, 3 Wayne Borsak, 4 Vincent Wright, 5 Ben Adams, 6 Sam Ward, 7 Mark Porpiglia, 8 Boyd Killingworth, 9 Joshua Holmes (captain), 10 David Harvey, 11 Michael Dalton, 12 Nathan Daly, 13 Dylan Smouha, 14 Conrad Gillingham, 15 David Feltscheer
Referee: Jamie McGregor
Randwick v Parramatta @ Coogee Oval (ABC TV game, kick off 3pm, Saturday April 13)
Randwick: 1 Faitotoa Asa, 2 Nio Halangahu, 3 Richard Aho, 4 Junior Taavili, 5 Bryce Speechley, 6 Tom Bennet, 7 Seilala Lam (captain), 8 Nathan Paella, 9 Harrison Boileau, 10 Toby Browne, 11 Ethan Ford, 12 Terrance Hepetema, 13 Tim Wright, 14 Sam Latu, 15 Mark Kotezcky
Parramatta: 1 Nick Blacklock, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 3 Chris Seuteni, 4 Charlie Leaeno, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Andrew Cox (captain), 7 Rodney Ma’a, 8 Josh Kaifa, 9 Solomona Silipa, 10 Tom Woods, 11 Dan Yakopo, 12 Damien Fakafanua, 13 Iese Leota, 14 Tui Fa’asisila, 15 Moses Tavola
Referee: Edward Martin
Penrith v Gordon @ Nepean Rugby Park (3pm)
Penrith: 1 Peter Niumata (captain), 2 Ethan Robinson-Mate, 3 Sione Matangi, 4 Tyrone Emelio, 5 Willie Tooala, 6 Sione Pusiaki Fifita, 7 Owen Crozier, 8 Leo Burgess, 9 Paula Katoa, 10 Sia'a Taveuveu, 11 Kome Leoliifano, 12 Henry Lilomaiava, 13 Paueli Halafihi, 14 John Maumau, 15 James Umu
Gordon: 1 Tobias Gukibau, 2 Ron Hobden (captain), 3 Willy Maumalanga, 4 Lex Fairley, 5 Seb Murphy, 6 Lex Fairley, 7 Gordon Broome, 8 Luke Rissman, 9 Terry Preston, 10 Mitch Walton, 11 Vesi Tokalaulevu, 12 Tom Matthews, 13 Lucas Simkin, 14 Michael Manners, 15 Will Shirvington
Referee: Nathan Pearce
Southern Districts v Eastern Suburbs @ Forshaw Rugby Park (3pm)
Southern Districts: 1 Duncan Chubb, 2 Andrew Sulter, 3 Tim Metcher, 4 Andrew Leota, 5 Jed Holloway, 6 Mick Kauter, 7 Jono Hayes (captain), 8 Lopeti Timani, 9 Grayson Hart, 10 Rohan Saifoloi, 11 Alex Gibbon, 12 Apo Latunipulu, 13 Denny Godinet, 14 Oleni Ngunguatu, 15 Ben Volavola
Eastern Suburbs: 1 Sione Kolo, 2 Alex Walker (captain), 3 Rob McMicken, 4 Keliti Vaingalo, 5 Richard Stanford, 6 James Graham, 7 Ryan Hodson, 8 Andrew Shaw, 9 Luke Irwin, 10 Henry Hudson, 11 Charlie Clifton, 12 Tom Azar, 13 Mark Murray, 14 Anton Lavin, 15 Angus Sinclair
Referee: Anthony Moyes
Sydney University v Eastwood @ University Oval 1. (3pm)
Sydney University: 1 Jeremy Tilse, 2 Matthew Mafi, 3 Sam Talakai, 4 Oliver Atkins, 5 Will Skelton, 6 Liam Winton, 7 Benn Melrose, 8 Tim Davidson (captain), 9 Jake Gordon, 10 Daniel Kelly, 11 Tom Kingston, 12 Tom Carter, 13 Michael Hodge, 14 Fetuli Talanoa, 15 Nathan Trist
Eastwood: 1 Marty Plokstys, 2 Todd Pearce, 3 Dylan Brass, 4 Steve Cummins, 5 Mitch Lees, 6 Sione Tau, 7 Hugh Perrett (captain), 8 Jared Barry, 9 Shanin Proctor, 10 Jimmy Hilgendorf, 11 Nick Batger, 12 Tyler Spitz, 13 Michael McDougall, 14 Nick Reily, 15 Ben Batger
Referee: Matt O'Brien
Manly v West Harbour @ Manly Oval (3pm)
Manly: 1 Eddie Aholelei, 2 Andrew Collins, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 4 Ed Gower (captain), 5 Dylan Sigg, 6 Harry Bergelin, 7 Kotoni Ale, 8 Andrew Davis, 9 Matt Lucas, 10 BJ Hartmann, 11 Richard Hooper, 12 Peter Gilmore, 13 Brian Sefanaia, 14 Will Helu, 15 Jacob Woodhouse
West Harbour: 1 Aisea Namoa, 2 Murray Scoles, 3 Vaughan Lomax, 4 Tom Patterson, 5 Bradford Kapa, 6 Jono Midghall, 7 Cohen Masson, 8 Tom Games (captain), 9 David Osofua, 10 Shaun Treweek, 11 Tito Mua, 12 Winston Wilson, 13 Alofa Alofa, 14 Macquire Tatola, 15 Dylan Taikato-Simpson
Referee: Timothy Wills
Fixtures, results and ladders for all grades are available from the Draws, Results and Ladders section on the NSWRU website.