Latu firming for Super Rugby start

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Tolu Latu is firming for his first 2018 start this weekend, after another impressive performance for the Waratahs in Sydney.

Latu has come off the bench in every one of his appearances this season but was influential in the Waratahs’ comeback win over the Highlanders, with his presence felt heavily in the scrum.

Starter Damien Fitzpatrick and Latu have been splitting their time down the middle in recent weeks but forwards coach Simon Cron said Latu's chances of promotion were stronger than ever.

“I think he was really good around the field,” he said.

“His first two throws were the same as Fitzy's last two, they were horrid darts, but he's done a lot.

“He's done some really good stuff.

“I thought the boys scrummed really well with seven men on and he's a big part of that at hooker and he was good putting pressure on their ball.

“I'd say that selection debate will be as big as it has been for the last three weeks.”

Outside of Latu, Cron said it was the Waratahs' leaders that really took their quarter-final by the scruff of the neck in Sydney, beginning to fill the void left by injured skipper Michael Hooper.

Hooper did not travel with the team to South Africa, still recovering from a hamstring injury, taking his absence to five matches.

“There's always a risk when you lose a big leader that you have a whole lot of guys who want to suddenly become leaders and we can talk too much,” Cron said.

“(On Saturday), you could tell that the key guys spoke at the right times and therefore the message is nice and clear and then we started to show that on the field.

“We talk about game management all the time and your game management comes from your 9,10 and with KB (Kurtley Beale) at 12.

“From my point of view, I thought they did a really good job in that second half and they'll just grow confidence from that.

“We talked a lot during the week about who talks because sometimes we have too many guys talking and I think the second half yesterday, the game managers and the key leaders stood up and did the talking and I think that helps.”

History will be against the Waratahs in South Africa this weekend, with just 10 travelling teams taking a win in 39 Super Rugby finals attempts.

Cron had a frank approach to the challenge of travel, one that could have been flipped on its head had the Waratahs beaten the Brumbies in the final regular season round.

“Get on (the plane), sleep, go play rugby,” he said.

“I think from my point of view, there's no excuses around travel.

“Everyone's got to do it, if it was the other way around, if they were coming here, we wouldn't be giving them any excuse around travel.”

The Waratahs take on the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday July 28, kicking off at 3:05pm local, 11:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.