Tolu Latu is the Waratah again, and the Whore could still emerge as a player of national interest if he stays on the straight and narrow over the next 16 months.
After weeks of negotiations with the Waratahs, the 21-Test whiz signed a one-year deal with the Super Rugby franchise last week.
In doing so, Darren Coleman has opted to promote Latu’s great potential from Tom Horton to compete with existing Wallabies hurlers Dave Porecki and Mahe Vaillanu.
It is understood Horton, 25, will instead join Premiership champions Leicester, coached by Eddie Jones’ former right-hand man Steve Borthwick.
With Argentina international Julian Montoya absent, Tom Youngs retired and Sydney-born England international Nick Dooley injured, Borthwick will be looking for a starter and Horton will compete for a role if his visa is approved and he touches down in the region.
A short-term contract is a real opportunity for Horton to develop after a frustrating few years where injuries have slowed his growth.
But the Sydney Uni hurler only needed to inspire former team-mate Porekin, who 29-year-old plyed his trade in England for years before opening against the Waratahs last year. Porecky’s Wallabies debut has been delayed for a year by injury, but the experienced ruck was one of Dave Rennie’s best players against England in July.
Latu’s return is hardly surprising.
He has been linked with a return to the Waratahs since being released by Stade Francaise at the start of the year.
His exit from the Paris-based outfit’s top 14 came after further ill-discipline and sloppy spells off the field, which finally ended his 21-Test run.
But his prowess as one of the best on the ball and scrum in Australian rugby has seen Australian rugby give the cat of nine lives another chance.
Considering the story, it is the last one to be seen if one foot is wrong.
Latu has joined in a six-figure deal, but if he can stay on the right side of the boot, riches await him.
Barring a major injury, he is unlikely to be considered for the Welsh this year, but after his impressive World Cup campaign in 2019, he is a favorite for next year’s tournament in France.
He will compete with Porecki, Folau Faingaa and Lachlan Lonergan – all three of whom are in Argentina – in the Wallabies’ opening Rugby Championship match against Michael Cheka’s Los Pumas in Mendoza on Sunday (AEST).
Sunday’s test is a season-defining one, especially with the All Blacks fighting fire on multiple fronts.
Not only will the All Blacks take on the Springboks twice in South Africa, but they could also play into the future of coach Ian Foster.
Foster, like his two assistants, could have survived the ax in their country’s first series defeat since 1994, but New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson was not filled with confidence when he failed to say he would lead the All Blacks this way. World Cup next year.
“He’s the guy who’s really going to lead the team to South Africa, and we’re going to make sure they’ve got everything in terms of resourcing and support to make it successful,” Robinson told Newstalk ZB from Birmingham.
Robinson’s comments came after former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said the relationship between New Zealand Rugby’s board and players was at an all-time low.
“By the board and the [executive] It’s probably the worst it’s ever been with the players at the moment,” he said on local radio.
“I don’t think they’re doing their job right now.”
Former NZR boss David Moffett called for Robinson to stand down.
The rumblings in the front office and the All Blacks coaching Scott Robertson in the wings that they had the wrong man left the impression that the Blacks were at their most vulnerable in the two decades leading up to the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup. .