Rugby Australia acted swiftly in the wake of revelations that Waratahs and Wallaby hooker Tolu Latu was arrested for drink driving.
According to reports Latu was found slumped over the wheel of a vehicle, not far from Rugby Australia headquarters in Sydney at approximately 04.30 this past Thursday morning.
Latu was named on the bench for this past Saturday’s Waratahs Round 14 encounter with the Reds and took to the field in the 67th minute of the 40-32 Round 14 win in Brisbane.
On Sunday it was revealed that he was banished from the Wallabies’ training camp and will front a Rugby Australia integrity unit on Monday.
And Latu certainly has some explaining to do, his Waratahs coach says, after the hooker’s failure to inform the Super Rugby franchise of a drink-driving offence that could ruin his World Cup aspirations.
According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, his blood alcohol level was 0.135.
Police will allege he was also driving on a suspended licence and will front Downing Centre Local Court on June 6.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he wasn’t aware of the incident until the media outlet contacted him at “lunchtime” on Saturday, just hours before they were due to play the Reds in Brisbane.
Without a reserve hooker, Gibson had no choice but to include the Wallabies contender in his squad, once cleared to do so by Rugby Australia and SANZAAR.
However, immediate future at the Super Rugby franchise, and any chance of featuring at the World Cup later this year, will be up for discussion in Sydney on Monday.
“I’m sure there’s a number of things that he’d need to say to the team,” Gibson said.
“[I was] pretty disappointed to only learn of it so close to the game. Having that information earlier would’ve made a far better, considered decision.
“That’s all stuff that was out of our control.”
Capped 12 times, Latu has a history of on-field ill-discipline and was only just coming back from a six-week suspension for charging into a ruck in round two.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika isn’t short on hooking options for the Japan showpiece either.
Folau Fainga’a has been one of the Brumbies’ standouts, while veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau remains in the frame and Melbourne Rebels young gun Jordan Uelese is back from a long-term knee injury.
Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi has also impressed this season, as has Alex Mafi after leapfrogging fringe Wallaby Brandon Paenga-Amosa for a starting berth at the Queensland Reds.
“As far as we are aware, he’s an innocent man until there has been a formal investigation,” New South Wales Rugby CEO Andrew Hore, ” told reporters.
“You have to be fair.
“We went through all the processes. When you find out late in the piece, it makes it really tough.”
Hore cautioned against trying to connect Latu’s issue with Folau.
“You can’t connect the two,” he said.
“The complexity of case A [Folau] was pretty full on, so you’ve got to take each hurdle as it comes.”