'Surprised' Latu ready to make Wallabies mark

The Rugby Championship
by Montanna Clare

Tolu Latu was as surpised as anyone  to receive a Wallabies squad call-up last week, but the young hooker is eager to make the most of his second chance.

The 23-year-old hooker conceded he had an average run with the Waratahs this season, playing only four games and said he was shocked to be picked ahead of Reds hooker Andrew Ready.

“Pretty surprising after the season Andrew Ready had with the Reds...to get the call up,” he said.

Andrew Ready was one of the standout performers for the Reds in 2016. Photo: Getty Images“Hopefully the second time around lasts a bit longer than what I did last time.”

Latu was selected in the Wallabies squad two years ago, after his first season of Super Rugby, but a broken arm put prospects of a debut on hold.

“To be honest that was my first camp, that was my first year of professional rugby,” he said.

“I was pretty fresh and didn’t really back myself to do a lot of things, and I was just happy to be there.”

Confident he’s improved since his last stint with the Wallabies, Latu said he was keen to develop his skills alongside captain Stephen Moore and Rebels hooker James Hanson.

“I’m still learning the game, so I’m still learning stuff that I can work on,” he said.

Latu will learn off Wallaby centurion Stephen Moore: Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“My set piece has gotten a little bit better but there’s still a lot to learn for me, and hopefully I can learn from the other two hookers that are on tour too.”

While Latu had a short season with the Waratahs due to injury and suspension, his physical performances with the NRC-leading NSW Country Eagles caught Wallabies coach Micahel Cheika's attention.

“He (Cheika) was just telling me that he was willing to take me on board if I believed that I was ready,” he said.

“I’m just trying to play consistent rugby, trying to use that competition to kick start my preseason for the Tahs, and it’s got me here so I’m pretty stoked.”

The 30-man Wallabies squad is currently in South Africa ahead of Saturday's clash with South Africa in Pretoria, kicking off at 1:05am AEST.