Wallabies legend to play in new Brisbane Tens
RUGBY UNION: Chris Latham is hoping some of his former Wallabies teammates follow his lead and sign up for the inaugural Brisbane Global Rugby Tens in February.
Latham, Samu Kerevi, Karmichael Hunt and Taniela Tupou (Reds), Damian McKenzie and Liam Messam (Chiefs), Jerome Kaino and Rene Ranger (Blues), Israel Folau (Waratahs), Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Henry Speight (Brumbies) and Loni Uhila (Hurricanes) have already been locked in to pull on the boots at Suncorp Stadium on February 11-12.
Latham, now 41 and coaching in Japan, said he wanted to see Lote Tuqiri (Waratahs) and Stephen Larkham (Brumbies) in particular join him in turning back time.
"As soon as names get thrown up, you start to reminisce of the times where you had those little battles and stuff,” said the veteran of 78 Wallabies games. "(Larkham) was actually one of those naturally gifted players so I think he'd still have it.”
All 10 Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby teams have signed up for the tournament, along with the Bulls (South Africa), Toulon (France), Panasonic Wild Knights (Japan) and a Samoan national side.
The Super Rugby sides are contractually obligated to include four of their 10 highest-paid players in their Tens squads ahead of the season kicking off between the Rebels and Blues on February 23.
The full squads will be announced in late January with organisers Duco Events expecting more wildcard entries like Latham, who is coaching Osaka club NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes.
"It's not something that we'll see every team do but certainly some select teams are looking at it,” said Rachael Carroll, Duco Events' Australian chief executive. "As with Chris, they're looking at someone that can really contribute, that can add physically or even to the culture of the team.”
Toulon will be without its French Six Nations stars but hopes are high the likes of Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, James O'Connor, Liam Gill and Ma'a Nonu will make the trip.
"Toulon is stacked with a heap of Australian and New Zealand players,” Carroll said. "And they're the players that certainly I think the fans will want to see taking the field on Suncorp Stadium.”