Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

‘I needed change’: Lukhan Salakaia-Loto eyes first Wallabies Test since 2021

By AAP
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto poses during an Australia Wallabies Portrait Session on June 26, 2024 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for ARU)

In-limbo Lukhan Salakaia-Loto is happy to put his country ahead of club as he fights for a Wallabies recall following a three-year “soul-searching” career change overseas.

ADVERTISEMENT

Salakaia-Loto is in the running for a first Test start since 2021 after returning from an English Premiership stint with Northampton and earning a spot in Joe Schmidt’s maiden Wallabies squad.

The 27-year-old didn’t blink when asked if he thought his Test-playing days might be over after he left the Queensland Reds at the end of 2022.

Video Spacer

Chasing the Sun on RugbyPass TV | RPTV

Chasing the Sun, the extraordinary documentary that traces the Springboks’ road to victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is coming to RugbyPass TV.

Watch now

Video Spacer

Chasing the Sun on RugbyPass TV | RPTV

Chasing the Sun, the extraordinary documentary that traces the Springboks’ road to victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is coming to RugbyPass TV.

Watch now

“No, not at all,” the 30-Test stalwart said ahead of the Wallabies’ first match of the year against Wales in Sydney on Saturday.

“I knew that time of my career, back in 2021, I needed a change.

“I’d spent a big part – all of – my career up in Queensland and I got to the point where I needed change and needed to do a bit of soul searching and overseas was the place for that.

“So I left knowing that I was going to come back at some stage.

“Probably not as quick as it probably happened but I knew that, if I had gone away and worked and chipped away on my craft, that coming back I’ll be a better player for it.”

Salakaia-Loto was gushing in his praise for the help he received at Northampton from English great Courtney Lawes.

ADVERTISEMENT

But, ultimately, he credits family life for his new perspective and approach.

“Had a family, got two kids now with my partner. Just in life in general, it’s made me a better person,” he said.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
3
Draws
0
Wins
2
Average Points scored
26
29
First try wins
60%
Home team wins
60%

“And that flows on to being a better player.

“Coming back a bit more older and mature, it’s something that I definitely haven’t taken for granted.

“I’m just taking each day as it comes and it’s good to be back with the boys that I’ve got a lot of time for and played a lot of rugby with in the past.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Hopefully I can make my time this time around better.”

Salakaia-Loto’s bid for a Wallabies recall comes amid much uncertainty around his club career after Melbourne Rebels’ axing from the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

The lock hasn’t played since breaking a foot in April, but insists he’s “fit and ready to go” and only focused on the Wallabies.

The Sydney-born-and-raised talent is an obvious candidate to join the Rugby Australia-owned NSW Waratahs but is remaining coy about where he may end up in 2025.

“I’m right where my feet is and that’s in camp and that’s what I’m focused on,” Salakaia-Loto said.

“Once I have an answer, I could probably give you a bit more clarity on that.

“But, you never know, NBA is a pretty cool sport to get into.

“All options are open at the moment.”

Watch the World Rugby U20s Championship live and for free on RugbyPass TV. Register here now
*Unavailable in Africa, NZ, Fiji, Samoa, Papua NG and Tonga

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

LIVE

{{item.title}}

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

0 Comments
Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

f
finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

4 Go to comments
FEATURE
FEATURE Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma
Search