Polota-Nau the full package: Hickey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Polota-Nau the full package: Hickey

By Jim Morton 24/05/2010 07:39:53 PM Comments (0)

After five years in the making, NSW coach Chris Hickey believes bulldozing hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is the complete package and ready to own the Wallabies No.2 jersey.

Hickey flew back into Sydney on Monday with the vanquished Waratahs licking their wounds from a deflating 25-6 Super 14 semi-final loss to the Stormers.

The disappointing end to their campaign still couldn't take the gloss off Polota-Nau's output which the coach rated as the best by a hooker in the competition.

With incumbent Test rake Stephen Moore sidelined with a broken jaw, the 24-year-old now has the chance to cement his starting place.

Hickey feels the timing is perfect for Polota-Nau who has ironed the chinks out of his armour with greatly improved set-piece displays in 2010.

"Absolutely, in terms of his whole game it has developed now," he told AAP.

"He's been the form hooker, not just in Australia but in the whole competition, in my eyes.

"His performances have been outstanding both in attack and defence, while his scrummaging has gone to another level and his lineout throwing has been really consistent, so he's got all areas covered."

The 181cm, 113kg Polota-Nau has always been viewed as a freakish athlete since first being plucked out of Sydney club rugby by Eddie Jones in 2005, but has struggled to make his mark as a starting hooker due to his set-piece work.

Hickey felt the 23-Test forward had done enough to prove he was a consistent lineout thrower before this season but had certainly reinforced a new-found status of reliability without competition from Adam Freier.

"I think he's certainly answered his critics with his performances in that area," he said.

"He's still a young kid. He's still only 24 and he's just been around for a while.

"You don't expect these tight-five players to mature until they're about 25."

Polota-Nau must not only fill Moore's boots but also step up to add extra grunt to a vulnerable Test tight-five also missing Benn Robinson (broken arm) and James Horwill (knee).

Coach Robbie Deans has plenty of other injured troops he must overlook in naming a 30-man Wallabies squad on Thursday for the opening four Tests of the year, starting with Fiji in Canberra on June 5.

On the bright side, the Waratahs came through their bruising defeat unscathed.

There were concerns in-form winger Drew Mitchell had injured his knee but Hickey reported he was fine and available for Test selection.

The news isn't so good for Queensland flyer Rod Davies who is still another two to three weeks away from returning from a hamstring strain.

The fastest player in Australia, Davies re-signed with the Reds for another two years on Monday after scoring five tries in his eight Super 14 matches this season.

Meantime, young Reds back-rower Jake Schatz has been named captain of the Australian Under 20s team which travels to Argentina on Wednesday for the Junior World Championships.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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