NSW Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has named drink-driving hooker Tolu Latu to potentially make his return from a two-week suspension in Saturday night’s must-win Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies.
Gibson bracketed Latu on the bench with Andrew Tuala on another tumultuous day in the Waratahs’ season from hell.
Latu pleaded guilty in court to mid-range drink-driving on Thursday after being found slumped at the wheel of his car last month and later registering a 0.135 blood alcohol reading.
His case was adjourned until next week, by when the Waratahs’ finals hopes may or may not have been extinguished.
Gibson said a decision on whether Latu – who was also booted out of a Wallabies camp following his brush with the law – would be allowed to play against the Brumbies was still pending.
“We’re just seeing what his lawyers advise us around the next steps,” Gibson said.
“Obviously we’re keen for him to take his place this weekend and get some games for us.
“(But) it’s hard to say. He’s served his two-match suspension, he’s taken his drink-driver education courses, he’s sought counselling so he’s making the steps necessary, in our view, to make a successful rehabilitation.”
Lock Ned Hanigan was ruled out of the Bankwest Stadium showdown after failing a concussion test, leaving Tom Staniforth to partner Rob Simmons in the second row.
The Waratahs are sitting third in the Australian conference and in 10th spot overall on the table and must beat both the Brumbies and the Highlanders in Dunedin next week to have any hope of making the finals.
Compounding the Tahs’ troubles was John Folau’s release from the club on the same day his sacked Wallabies superstar brother Israel lodged an unfair dismissal claim against Rugby Australia.
Waratahs: Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (c), Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Tom Staniforth, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson. Reserves: Tolu Latu/Andrew Tuala, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Chris Talakai, Jed Holloway, Will Miller, Jake Gordon, Tautalatasi Tasi, Cameron Clark.
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