Tatafu Polota-Nau is up for the challenge and opens up on why he's enjoying the experience of a difficult season, discusses his short stint back in Super Rugby and why he's privileged to be a mentor at Tigers.
Tatafu Polota-Nau isn’t the type to shy away from a challenge.
Just ask any player who has had to either tackle or be tackled by the Tigers front-rower.
So, unsurprisingly, ‘Taf’ is accepting the challenge in front of he and his Leicester team mates in the remaining weeks of the current Premiership campaign as they sit 10th on the ladder and face three sides above them in the final rounds.
“Sure, we’re not in an ideal situation or where we want to be,” admits Polota-Nau.
“But, look, you either have to accept the challenge or look for excuses – I’m accepting it.”
The veteran hooker joined the Tigers from the Western Force in Super Rugby in November 2017 and is aware his time in Leicester hasn’t been as successful as he might have liked, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t enjoyed the challenge.
says the leaders within the squad are guiding the side through the tough period.
“It has never been rainbows or butterflies since I got here,” says the Australia international.
“But, I am enjoying not only the little challenge of developing myself but also the challenges we face as a team.
“It’s a learning experience and you have to embrace those.”
Alongside Ben Youngs and Dan Cole, the Wallabies rake is one of the most experienced international representatives in Geordan Murphy’s squad and says those older members of the group are guiding the squad during the “pressure” period.
“The experienced guys here understand what mind set is required in pressure moments, like what we’re in at the moment, and they’re all stepping up and leading,” says the 32 year old.
As well as the Tigers, Polota-Nau has worn three more shirts on the rugby field in the past year after representing the Barbarians in the summer, Australia on the international stage and more recently the NSW Waratahs in Super Rugby on a two-week loan spell – which he admits was a “bittersweet” return to his first professional club.
“It was bittersweet, I didn’t leave on the best terms back in but to add a few more appearances for New South Wales was very special,” he says.
“To play in the grudge match against Queensland and was amazing, it’s the equivalent of Leicester and Northampton.”
The short return home also allowed Polota-Nau to share what he has learned in Leicester with members of the Waratahs playing group and coaching staff.
“The forwards coach [Simon Cron] is really open minded and loved what I could bring in the form of primers at scrum time and other knowledge I’ve picked up over here,” Polota-Nau says.
Upon his return to Tigers, with fellow internationals Tom Youngs and Jake Kerr occupying starting spots in the senior side, the 89 Test veteran turned out for Leicester’s development squad in the Premiership Shield – another challenge he embraced and enjoyed, playing mentor to the next generation.
“I remember being their age and how nervous I was,” recalls Polota-Nau.
“My role is to encourage them and help build them up and allowing them to believe in themselves.
“To be a part of their development of guys is a privilege for me.”