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European club makes a play for under-fire Wallaby Tolu Latu

Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu could be in line for a switch to a European club (Getty Images)

Under-fire Wallaby Tolu Latu could end up playing next season at one of the European clubs previously coached by Australian boss Michael Cheika.  

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The 26-year-old Wallabies and Waratahs hooker tarnished his reputation in recent times, Rugby Australia serving him with a breach notice for his drink-driving and driving while suspended offences on May 16.

Latu was sentenced in court after pleading guilty to mid-range drink driving and driving while suspended. He was dealt a three-month driving suspension for each offence, and fined a total of $1,300 for both offences. He was further ordered to pay court costs and have an interlock device fitted to his car.

At the conclusion of the court proceedings, the Rugby Australia Integrity Unit found determined that Latu had committed a mid-level breach of the professional player code of conduct and has issued a sanction that includes a four-match suspension and a fine of $5,000.

While Latu is in the Wallabies squad for the Rugby Championship, which kicks off at the weekend in South Africa, and will likely make the cut for the World Cup finals in Japan, his hand in contract negotiations with Rugby Australia has seemingly been weakened by his off-field antics.

That has left a former European suitor of Cheika poised to pounce as Midi Olympique, the French bi-weekly rugby newspaper, are speculating Latu will be one of the final pieces in Heyneke Meyer’s Top 14 recruitment jigsaw at Stade Francais.   

Last week, when asked if his squad counted too many South African players, the Stade boss replied: “With Paul Alo-Emile, Sefa Naivalu, Hugh Pyle and Tala Gray, I have more Australians in the squad than South Africans. Why do they only talk to me about my (South African) compatriots, and what will it do to harm that?”

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Latu, who shares playing time in the Australian squad with Tatafu Polota-Nau, would arrive in Paris in November if a deal goes through.

Stade already have three hookers in place, Laurent Panis, Rémi Bonfils, and Lucas Da Silva, but they have recently Laurent Sempere, their most-used hooker last season who has now joined the coaching staff at the club. 

WATCH: Nic White talks about his return to the Wallabies squad for the first time since 2015

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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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