Wallabies Tolu Latu and Nick Phipps are no grand final blow-ins, Sydney Uni coach Robert Taylor says.
Latu and Phipps have both been named in Uni’s squad for Saturday’s Shute Shield decider against Warringah and their inclusions have caused a stir in some sections of the rugby community.
Both have played for Sydney Uni throughout their senior careers and Taylor was quick to point out that Latu was the side’s starting hooker for the first part of the regular season.
“I think people have forgotten Tolu wasn’t wanted by the Waratahs at the start of the season or at least (he wasn’t) in the 23,” he said.
“He played pre-season with us and started the first six games of the season. He’s played the equal most amount of games as a hooker for us.
“Tolu goes back as a 15-year-old playing in out third colts team, so there’s a lot of history there. He’s very much part of the team who was there from the start.”
Taylor said Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had requested the pair were given a run in the game, with no Test and no NRC for NSW-based players this weekend.
“Cheika wants these guys to be playing as much as they can and so there was a request to have them involved and we have a policy at Uni and I’m sure it’s the same with any club that anyone who comes down from Super or the Wallabies, we want to get them back on the feidl somewhat,” he said.
“It’s great to have them and like Fanga (Phipps) as well, he started third colts a long time ago and has played every year since at the club and really bleeds the jersey and it’s nice to have those guys.
“It’s just lucky in the timing really that they have a gap – Tolu didn’t feature in the 23 last week so he gets a start this week and hopefully we can help him get back into that starting position for the Wallabies.”
While there has been some consternation in rugby circles about the lineups, Uni’s opponents the Warringah Rats aren’t worried about their star-studded opposition’s latest additions.
Captain Hamish Angus said the high-profile faces only added to the occasion.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said.
“I think even just the publicity the game’s getting because there’s obviously a few guys from the Wallabies squad coming back and that’s what you want in club footy, you want those guys coming back and contributing to their clubs – look at (Phipps) for example I used to play him in the colts.
“He’s a very proud Sydney Uni man and for him to get an opportunity to play in a grand final is fantastic.
“They’re minor premiers, they’re the form team in the comp and now they’ve got some Wallabies in their squad.
“That only adds motivation to us and it would be an even bigger achievement if we can knock them off.”
Even without the Test pair, Uni will be hot favourites this weekend after claiming the minor premiership but the Rats have proven they are no pushovers, winning every match they’ve played going back to round seven.
Sydney Uni takes on Warringah in the Shute Shield final on Saturday September 1 at North Sydney Oval, kicking off at 3:10pm AEST LIVE on 7TWO.
Sydney Uni to take on Warringah
1. Matt Sandell
2. Tolu Latu
3. Paddy Ryan
4. Lachie Swinton
5. Dave McDuling
6. Nick Champion De Crespigny
7. Brad Wilkin
8. Rohan O’Regan
9. Jake Gordon
10. Stu Dunbar
11. James Kane
12. Will McDonnell
13. Guy Porter
14. Harry Potter
15. Tim Clements
16. Tom Horton
17. Harry Johnson-Holmes
18. Chris Talakai
19. Jack Sharrett
20. Viliame Cocker
21. Nick Phipps
22. Theo Strang
23. Henry Clunies-Ross
1. Rory O’Connor
2. Luke Holmes
3. Harry Rorke
4. Sam Thomson
5. Jack Tomkins
6. Tom Preece
7. Mahe Vailanu
8. Sam Ward ©
9. Josh Holmes
10. Hamish Angus ©
11. Esera Chee-Kam
12. Sailosi Tagicakibau
13. Seb Wileman
14. Tyson Davis
15. Dave Feltscheer