Latham eyes Tri-Nations comeback

Star Wallaby fullback Chris Latham will resume squad training with the Reds this week after spending five months recovering from a knee reconstruction in January of this year.

Last year the long-kicking and long-serving Wallaby was nominated as one of the five IRB (International Rugby Board) Players of the Year, and a return to the Australian Test line-up could complete coach John Connolly’s search for his premier backline to take to the World Cup.

Julian Huxley, who has deputised for Latham, is a battler and has given his all, but the educated left boot and the dynamic counter-attacking option Chris Latham provides was sorely missed by Australia when they went down to the Springboks by 22 to 19 on Saturday in Cape Town.

Latham has said that his rehabiltitation “could not have gone any better”.

“Every single decision and every single thing and every single day if you want to put it on a scale from one to 10, I think we’ve hit a 10,” he told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“I’ve condensed a very serious injury into what hasn’t even been six months yet so it’s just a matter of making sure we get the timing right with this.”

And as a result of his recovery, it has now become a matter of time until Latham finds himself back in Test rugby.

A decision will be made later this week whether Latham should play club rugby this coming Saturday, for the Gold Coast Breakers, or whether he should avoid the battlefield of suburban club rugby, and head straight back into the Wallaby fold.

The next big decision in Latham’s comeback will be whether to slot the fullback back into Tri-Nations action on July 7 when the Wallabies play the Springboks in Sydney, or whether to wait another two weeks to play against the All Blacks in Auckland on July 21.

“It is more likely to be the last one, but I am really hoping I can get in that South African game,” Latham told the Sydney Morning herald. “It’s that close and hard a call.

“Whether or not I make that date is no real reflection of how I am physically with the injury,” said Latham.

“It is whether or not it is relevant that I play, or if it’s more relevant to be training to make sure I get the strength I need. It is really up in the air at the moment.”

But Latham has said that he has removed himself from the decision-making process and left it in the hands of those overseeing his recovery – rehabilitation advisers Cameron Lillicrap and Dirk Spitz, and national coach John Connolly.

But Latham has no doubt that Australia have the ability to win the World Cup – something they confirmed by taking the highly-touted Springboks right to the edge on Saturday.

“The thoughts of the team is that we can be and will be successful,” he said. “We just have to play our side, keep tight, stick together and believe in what we are doing. And, once again, do the job when it comes to World Cup time.”


365 Digital

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