Tahs new hooker vows to seize chance

Youngster Hugh Roach has vowed to seize his chance as the NSW Waratahs’ latest starting hooker following the suspension of Tolu Latu.

The 22-year-old is expected to be thrown into action for the Super Rugby defending champions with incumbent hooker Latu banned for four weeks for a dangerous tackle and Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (concussion) still being rested.

The Waratahs were flying out on Tuesday for the their two-match tour of South Africa with uncertainty hanging over the make-up of their team to face to Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

They are expected to appeal against the suspensions of Latu and lock Will Skelton (two weeks) on Monday for their tip tackle on All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock in Saturday’s win over the Crusaders.

While Latu stayed behind, Skelton was travelling with the team, indicating they believe an appeal may clear him to play in one, or both, matches against the Lions and Cheetahs.

Roach, who has five Super Rugby caps, is set to become the starting hooker with Manly club rake Dave Porecki called in as back-up.

“Unfortunately it’s come under these circumstances but I’m going to take my opportunity and give it everything I’ve got and see what happens,” said Roach at Sydney airport.

“I’ve been in and around the Tahs for a while.

“I’ve been on standby if anything ever happens so it dawned on me when it hit everyone else. I’m looking forward to it.”

“I’ve been on a few tours with Aussie 20s and schoolboys so it’s not very new. But in saying that I’ve never been away with the Tahs.

“I’m pretty confident in myself to give the best that I can and the boys have been really good for the time I’ve been here.”

Former Waratahs lock Dean Mumm was always set to join the Tahs in South Africa after signing to return and his arrival will be timely.

Mitchell Chapman is expected to go from the bench to start alongside skipper Dave Dennis at lock if the Skelton appeal fails, but Mumm could be added to the bench and come into the reckoning for the second game against the Cheetahs.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika backed the expected appeal over the suspensions of Latu and Skelton.

“We’re aware that rugby is trying to make sure that these tip tackles and everything like that are clamped down on and we agree with that idea totally,” he said.

“We just feel the tackles didn’t meet the criteria of the law for a red card like the match officials saw it on the day.

“So we’ll go through the appeal process and see what happens.”

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