Super Rugby
Latu and Skelton to appeal suspensions
May 27, 2015
Waratahs 32-22 Crusaders (Australia only)

NSW Waratahs have elected to appeal the four and two-week suspensions handed to Tolu Latu and Will Skelton, respectively. The duo were found guilty of an illegal lifting tackle on Crusaders and All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock on Saturday, landing a damaging blow to the Waratahs' hopes of claiming back-to-back Super Rugby titles.

Latu, who received a yellow card at the time, lifted Whitelock's legs while Skelton had the lock's upper body and threw him to the ground. The pair were cited for alleged foul play after the citing commissioner deemed the incident had met the red card threshold.

The appeals will be heard on Thursday evening (AEST) with the committee to 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.

Tolu Latu of the Waratahs is given his marching orders for a dangerous tackle, Waratahs v Crusaders, Super Rugby, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, May 23, 2015
Tolu Latu was given a yellow card for the dangerous tackle © Getty Images

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was reportedly emotional about the decisions, and chief executive Greg Harris said in a statement after the decisions were handed down that "the fact that our legal representatives have recommended that we appeal these decisions speaks for itself".

"We would not be intending to pursue this course of action unless we were of the opinion that both players were entitled to have their situations reconsidered by the appeal committee," Harris said in the Waratahs' statement. "Our intentions are to appeal the decision, however we will wait until we receive the written report from SANZAR before doing so."

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 back-up 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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