Thursday looms as D-day for banned Tahs

Thursday is looming as D-day for suspended NSW Waratahs forwards Will Skelton and Tolu Latu, with their appeals likely to be heard on that day.

On Monday, hooker Latu was suspended for four weeks and Skelton for two for their involvement in a lifting tackle on Crusaders second rower Sam Whitelock in a Super Rugby game in Sydney last Saturday.

Waratahs CEO Greg Harris said on Monday night they intended to appeal both verdicts pending receipt of their written judgments.

SANZAR dispatched them at 9am on Tuesday, giving the Waratahs 48 hours to lodge appeals.

It’s expected a SANZAR appeals committee will convene on either Thursday afternoon or evening and conduct proceedings via a video conference.

The appeals committee will consist of three legally qualified people, one each from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with the chairman coming from one of the two neutral countries.

The grounds for challenging the suspensions include proving the decisions were in error as to factual findings, overturning them in the interests of justice and establishing the sanctions imposed were manifestly excessive or wrong in principle.

Waratahs officials are hoping the proposed appeals will result in reduced punishments for both players.

Wallabies forward Skelton travelled to South Africa with the team on Tuesday while Latu stayed at home.

Uncapped Dave Porecki, who plays for Sydney club Manly, was added to the squad after Latu’s suspension was imposed.

He is poised to be the backup hooker against the Lions this weekend behind 22-year-old Roach, who has won five caps.

With Latu and first-choice hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau (concussion) unavailable, Roach gets a rare starting opportunity.

“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 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.

Former Waratahs lock Dean Mumm was also listed in the 26-man touring squad, after completing his commitments to English club Exeter.

Mumm is scheduled to link up with NSW in South Africa after flying out from Europe.

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.

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