This one's for you mum, says Latu after Wallabies debut

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Growing up, Tolu Latu simply wanted to make a better life for himself and his mother in Sydney.

Latu moved to Australia from New Zealand when he was two and his mother Sharon worked in a factory as he grew up, taking extra shifts to help the aspiring Rugby player move his way through the ranks.

Her sacrifices made Latu yearn to give something back to his mother and when he finally received his Wallabies cap on Saturday, he realised that aspiration.

Tolu Latu is in line for his Wallabies debut. Photo: Getty Images“Putting on that jersey made all the sacrifices my family made [worth it]. My mum being a single parent sacrificed a lot and being a single child she had to put stuff aside for my Rugby, so putting on that jersey hit home,” Latu said.

“She used to work in factories, working long hours, not ideal for a single parent but she did what she had to do to make sure I had food on the table and I could go to my games on the weekend without worrying if I had boots, or food when I was a little kid.

“Growing up seeing that made me want to work hard and strive to make both of our futures better.”

Latu became the Wallabies' 12th 2016 debutant (and Wallaby No.902) against Wales, joining Samu Kerevi, Nick Frisby, Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Lopeti Timani, Allan Ala'alatoa, Tom Robertson, Reece Hodge, Sefa Naivalu and Leroy Houston.

When he called his mum Sharon to tell her of his impending debut, she couldn’t have been more thrilled, preparing to set up her Foxtel so she could watch the Test match against Wales over and over before the Scotland Test.

“She was asking me how to record it on Foxtel. She would’ve watched it live, but she will probably replay it 10 times during the lead-up to Scotland” - Tolu Latu

“I spoke to them after the squad got named, just my mum, she was jumping around in the house screaming, she was pretty stoked about that,” Latu added.

“She was asking me how to record it on Foxtel. She would’ve watched it live, but she will probably replay it 10 times during the lead-up to Scotland.”

Things didn’t all go smoothly as he prepared to enter the cauldron of Principality Stadium in Cardiff, but once Latu was out in the middle, his nerves were quickly calmed.

Tolu Latu “I got called up with probably 10 minutes to go, we were on our line there with a scrum, I couldn’t get on because the sideline officials just didn’t want me to get on,” he said.

“So that made me a bit more nervous to get on.

“I just wanted to get on and get my first bit of contact and get that out of that way.

“I ran out there and Scott Fardy and Rory Arnold were telling me ‘Just get your hands on the ball early’, telling me what I already knew in my head. They said enjoy every moment.”

However many Wallabies caps Latu earns from this point, every moment will be played with his family in mind.

“My whole family is a big motivation for me, coming from a Pacific Islander background we’re all really tight with our families,” he said. “My family is my motivation, that’s why I do what I do."