IF THE Wallabies are looking for a tour leader when they play their first major Test in Tokyo in a few weeks, they have one stuck right in the middle of their scrum. Come on down, Tatafu Polota-Nau.As expected of an intelligent man who is into robotics, and whose parents were unimpressed when he took up rugby in his late teens because they believed it would affect his studies, Polota-Nau has been preparing for the Tokyo Test by brushing up on his Japanese.And as usual with the gregarious and often hilarious Polota-Nau, there is a story to go with it. The Waratahs hooker has been learning the language for some years, after his uncle Hopoi Taione played several years of football as a second-rower in Japan in the late 1990s.”As a kind gesture to him and his Japanese wife, Yukiyo, I decided to learn the language, by mainly picking up some phrases from the internet,” Polota-Nau said yesterday.”It has now got to the stage that when I go to a Japanese restaurant, I will try to speak the language, and see how I go. When ordering food, I try to reply to the restaurant staff , and I have found that a good way of learning. There are certain words you pick up, while the grammar is similar to our Tongan language, so that’s helped.”He also works on his Japanese each time he is in contact with his uncle. ”Every time he calls up, I answer back in Japanese … but only to a certain point because he speaks so quickly,” Polota-Nau said. ”I often have to tell him to slow down so I can figure out what he is going on about. So you can see why I’m keen to go there.”Polota-Nau said he planned to escape the team hotel in Tokyo to try the local food halls. Adding to the thrill of heading to Japan is that he is certain to be an Australian mainstay in the Bledisloe Cup Test to be held at the National Stadium on October 31, as he is scheduled to hold onto his starting hooking spot ahead of Stephen Moore.Polota-Nau took over as the starting hooker for the final two matches of the Tri Nations, with his explosive start against the Springboks in Brisbane a crucial factor in the team’s only win of the tournament. In that match, he showed all his skills and incredible mobility during a frenetic 32 minutes before he was replaced due to injury. Also in Wellington, he was here, there and everywhere until one too many knocks meant he was replaced in the second half.”What I always do out there is give the best I can,” Polota-Nau said. ”I look upon it all as what the team needs first. I’m always appreciative of the opportunity to start, but in the end it all depends on what is the best XV for the respective game.”Also I do have a feeling that it is all coming together with the Wallabies, and the spring tour gives us a great opportunity to show that.”Another forward who will have a promotion on the tour is Reds skipper James Horwill, who will take on a senior lineout leadership role in Nathan Sharpe’s absence. ”This is a big tour, and it is really something I am looking forward to,” he said.
Nanjing Night Net

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