The Waratahs have secured Tatafu Polota-Nau on loan from the Leicester Tigers as a short-term injury replacement.
He will replace Sham Vui, who is currently on the sidelines. While some paperwork is still being finalised with the Tigers, Polota-Nau has arrived in Australia and will begin training with the Waratahs squad immediately.
The international hooker has 142 Super Rugby caps under his belt, having played for both the Waratahs and Westen Force, before being forced to move overseas when the Force were disbanded in a shrinking domestic competition.
He has also racked up 87 appearances for the Wallabies since making an international debut in 2005, and the 33-year-old could use this stint to push his claims for a spot in the World Cup squad later this year.
Coach Daryl Gibson said it was a good outcome for the Sydney-based franchise, particularly in a World Cup year, with it being a win-win for both parties.
“With some of the squad unavailable for selection due to injury, we needed to look at who could immediately slot into the Super Rugby level competition and was a good fit with our squad… Tatafu fits the bill,” said Gibson.
“It’s a win-win for us and Tatafu, who’ll have the opportunity to get game time in front of the Australian coaches and selectors during this World Cup year.”
While how long the loan will last is unclear, the loan comes with six weeks left in the English Premier Rugby season, where the Tigers have lost five of their last six and are all but out of finals contention.
“From a timing perspective it worked well with the Leicester Tigers calendar and we are currently finalising the paperwork.
Gibson also hinted at others getting a run through injuries, leaving the prospects of the former Wallabies hooker getting game time up in the air.
“Guys in our extended squad such as JP Sauni and Andrew Tuala are also training the house down and eager to get their first Super Rugby cap.
“It was great to see them get game time minutes with the Emerging Waratahs on Friday afternoon when they played Auckland A… it all helps them on their way to being ready to step up into Super Rugby,” he said.
The Waratahs are one from two to start the Super Rugby season and take on the Reds coming off a bye in a derby at the Sydney Cricket Ground this Saturday.