Rugby Championship

Wallabies rush back Polota-Nau

2014-09-09 07:23
Tatafu Polota-Nau (Gallo Images)

Gold Coast - Powerful hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau returned to the Australia line-up from injury on Tuesday as coach Ewen McKenzie beefed up his pack to face Argentina's fearsome scrum this weekend.

Polota-Nau has been sidelined with a knee problem since the Super Rugby final on August 2 but McKenzie brought him back to bolster his side at James Hanson's expense.

Polota-Nau will reach the 50-game mark in Saturday's Rugby Championship game in Brisbane, a week after the Wallabies' last-gasp 24-23 win over South Africa.

The affable 29-year-old made his international debut against England at Twickenham in 2005.

"I've known Tatafu for a long time and he is a guy who puts his body on the line each and every week for the benefit of the team," McKenzie said.

"He gives it his all every time he takes the field and is also an outstanding team-mate off it."

With outside-back Adam Ashley-Cooper ruled out with a nerve compression injury to his neck, Peter Betham was brought in as a wing replacement for his second Wallaby start.

The other change sees Ben McCalman preferred to Scott Higginbotham at number eight in the absence of Wycliff Palu, who is recovering from concussion.

"It's always hard to replace the experience guys such as Wycliff and Adam bring to the game, but their injuries now open the door for Ben and Peter to get an opportunity on Saturday night," McKenzie said.

The coach added that McCalman's close-quarter skills were well suited to combat the physical Argentine forwards, while Higginbotham will be an impact sub.

"Ben is no stranger to the international arena and we feel he has certain characteristics which will suit the team for the beginning of the match," he said.

"He'll set the tone early with his high work-rate and provide a good balance for what we'll be looking for from our backrow as a group.

"We'll also then have the benefit of being able to call on Scott (Higginbotham) and Matt (Hodgson) from the bench late in the game.

"We have strong thoughts on how we want our 'finishers' to play and they all have defined roles in how we want to close out the match."

Bernard Foley and Nick Phipps keep their places as the halves pairing with Kurtley Beale and Nic White again having to be content as replacements.

For a second straight week McKenzie opted for a forward-heavy 6-2 split on the bench, which made a significant contribution in last week's thrilling win.



15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Rob Horne,10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper

Substitutes: 16 James Hanson, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 James Horwill, 20 Scott Higginbotham, 21 Matt Hodgson, 22 Nic White, 23 Kurtley Beale




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