2. Saia it again
Stephen Moore. Tatafu Polota-Nau. Nathan Charles. Tolu Latu. Siliva Siliva. Heath Tessman. James Hanson.
All hookers seemingly ahead of Saia Fainga’a as we worked through a hooking ‘crisis’ this Wallaby domestic season. It is hard to argue against this pecking order on the back of the 2014 Super Rugby season. Whilst the form of Charles ensured him the back up spot in the squad, the performances of the formerly unheralded Latu and Tessman built their own argument for higher honours. In the meantime, Saia’s form was proving inconsistent. Unable to convince the Reds coaching team that he deserved a starting spot, his Super Rugby performances were patchy at best.
Realising his decreased standing, as well as the birth of his new child, acted as some sort of re-awakening for the veteran hooker. His first starting test for the Wallabies since 2010 came against the Boks in Cape Town – a Sliding Doors moment in Australian Rugby if ever there was one. Of the many notable occurrences from that test, one that didn’t get the headlines was Fainga’a’s game. His set piece was rock solid, in between gun props James Slipper and Sekope Kepu, and his aggressive play across the park was a real feature of the Wallaby play in a hard fought loss.
The Wales test was his fourth start in a row and another in a string of busy performances. Whilst no one questions that a fit Moore and TPN will be the Wallaby hookers coming next year’s World Cup, Saia has now jumped up the list of understudies and is making a strong case to be their back-up.