Latu cleared to make Waratahs return

Wallabies hooker Tolu Latu has been cleared to make his return for the NSW Waratahs this week after pleading guilty to mid-range drink driving last month.

DARYL GIBSON, head coach of the Waratahs, looks on during team warm up ahead of the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Waratahs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand
DARYL GIBSON, head coach of the Waratahs, looks on during team warm up ahead of the Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Waratahs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand Picture: Dianne Manson/Getty Images

Drink-driving Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu has been given the green light to play in Saturday night's must-win Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies.

The Waratahs announced late on Thursday he had been cleared to return to play following a two-game suspension.

Latu pleaded guilty in court to mid-range drink-driving earlier 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.

But the Waratahs said he that given his time served and actions since the incident, he was now available to play.

He had been bracketed on the bench with Andrew Tuala while Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson awaited further legal advice.

"Latu has already served a two game stand down with the NSW Waratahs, and taken full responsibility for his actions having entered a drink driver education course as well as agreed to counselling," the Waratahs said in a statement.

"In consultation with his lawyers and the Rugby Union Players' Association, NSWRU will permit Latu to be available for selection from Round 17 of Super Rugby."

NSW Rugby Union CEO, Andrew Hore, added: "We have taken into account the steps that Tolu has taken in recent weeks to address his actions and behaviours and acknowledge his time served on the sidelines.

"While he is still subject to potential Code of Conduct processes pending the outcome of his sentencing, Tolu will be available for selection for the NSW Waratahs until such time.

"While NSW Rugby Union does not condone this behaviour, we will be sure to also provide support to Tolu as he works through personal issues."

Meanwhile, 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.

NSW Waratahs: Kurtley Beale, Alex Newsome, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Lalakai Foketi, Curtis Rona, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Michael Wells, Michael Hooper (capt), Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Tom Staniforth, Sekope Kepu, Damien Fitzpatrick, Tom Robertson. Res: Tolu Latu/Andrew Tuala, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Chris Talakai, Jed Holloway, Will Miller, Jake Gordon, Tautalatasi Tasi, Cameron Clark.Drink-driving Waratahs hooker Tolu Latu has been given the green light to play in Saturday night's must-win Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies.


AAP