Super Rugby round 11
Polota-Nau primed for 100 club
April 24, 2013
Waratahs hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is determined to break the South Africa hoodoo © Getty Images
Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau has an achievement he desperately wants to tick off when he makes his 100th appearance for the New South Wales Waratahs in their clash with South Africa's Bulls in Pretoria this weekend.
The fearless front-rower, who made his NSW debut in a rare non-Super Rugby match against Auckland in 2005, wasn't aware he was reaching the century game milestone until told this week.
But he was keenly aware that none of the current Waratahs squad has ever tasted victory against the Bulls in Pretoria, which NSW last achieved in 2002.
In fact, Polota-Nau is one of just a handful of current NSW players who has been part of a winning Waratahs team anywhere in South Africa, where they have lost seven straight since their last victory in 2009.
"Having not won here at Loftus, that's probably one of my biggest aspirations to really knuckle down and get the win here," Polota-Nau told AAP. "It's definitely something I want to tick off, winning away games at these special places. Obviously there's a lot of talk around a well documented sort of hoodoo thing. But at the end of the day it's a game of rugby and, if you're the better team, you'll get the rewards for it."
Polota-Nau said NSW had discussed the losing streak.
"I think we've definitely confronted it. Obviously the mindset has a big part to do with (breaking) it," he said.
The Bulls currently lead the South African conference and have won their last seven games - home and away - against NSW.
"They (The Bulls) are a team that really know how they want to play," Polota-Nua said. "If we can disrupt a few of those circumstances and play to our strengths, hopefully we can shut them down early and take care of possession to attack off because a big part of their game is their kicking game. If we can retain the ball and not make them kick at all, it's halfway to getting a leg up on the Bulls."
Polota-Nau's bull-like charges with the ball and hard-hitting defence often has supporters worrying and wincing, but the popular hooker had no qualms about his style as he considered his 100-game milestone.
"It was worth the journey really, going through the pleasures and the pains of rugby, experiencing it first hand when you are playing against the best teams week in week out," he said.