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Latest Wallaby owes debut to family

AAP logoAAP 6/11/2016 Joe Barton

The rise of the latest Wallaby debutant wouldn't have been possible without his aunties and uncles, his cousins and above all, his tireless mother.

When Tolu Latu jogged onto Millennium Stadium in Saturday's win over Wales, he became Australia's 12th debutant in a year of change.

And the cap he received afterwards as Wallaby No.902 signified more than his three minutes of gametime and more than the young hooker's three seasons at the Waratahs.

For the 23-year-old, it was as much his mother Sharon's felt cap as his own.

"Putting on that jersey just made all the sacrifices my family made, my mum being a single parent she sacrificed a lot, and being a single child she had to put stuff aside for my rugby. Putting on that jersey just hit home," Latu said.

"My family is my motivation, that's why I do what I do."

Latu was born in Tonga but at age two moved with his mother to Sydney's eastern suburbs to live in a "house full of cousins".

Sharon would work late nights and long hours to ensure her son had footy boots to wear on the weekend - and food on the table at the end of each day.

That fuelled the hunger for a young Latu to dream big.

"Moving over to Australia (playing for the Wallabies) wasn't a goal, it was a dream but now that dream has come true," he said.

""Working long hours being a single parent, single parents out there would know - it's probably easy that she didn't have six kids like every other Islander family - she sacrificed a lot working late shifts, long hours.

"Growing up seeing that made me want to work hard and make both of our futures better."

Sharon danced around her living room screaming when her son called during the week to break the news he'd been selected in the match-day 23.

And then she asked how to record the game - but not because she wasn't planning on getting out of bed for the early-morning kick-off.

"She would've watched it live but she will probably replay it 10 times during the lead-up to Scotland," Latu smiled.

Handed a bench spot against Wales following a cheekbone injury to regular back-up hooker James Hanson, Latu is now a strong chance to retain his spot for the remainder of the Spring Tour - with no updates on Hanson's recovery.

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