Lukhan Salakaia-Loto has been plucked from the representative wilderness to be added to the Wallabies squad for Saturday’s series-deciding Test against England at the SCG.
Towering lock Salakaia-Loto and Waratahs’ Mark Nawaqanitawase have been called into a decimated Wallabies camp on the Gold Coast.
Nawaqanitawase will return from Fiji, where he was a part of the Australia A squad competing in the Pacific Nations Cup.
However, Salakaia-Loto has been playing for his Brisbane club rugby side Souths ahead of his move later this year to England, where he will join Northampton.
Having been dropped last year by Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, Salakaia-Loto – who has 30 Test caps to his name – was overlooked for a national contract earlier this year.
He suffered an injury in the early stages of Queensland’s 2022 Super Rugby Pacific campaign and, on his return, failed to fire for the Reds.
It led to him being dumped from Queensland’s team, and the 25-year-old forward was so much out of favour with Reds coach Brad Thorn that he was also overlooked for an extended squad – understood to be about 30-strong – that Thorn assembled in New Zealand for his side’s short-lived finals campaign.
However, Salakaia-Loto got the selection nod from Rennie ahead of Reds lock Ryan Smith, who is also on Australia A duty.
The Wallabies have a host of injuries heading into this week’s third Test. Joining an already hefty casualty list following England’s 25-17 weekend win at Suncorp Stadium were Izzy Perese (knee), Cadeyrn Neville (knee), Jordan Petaia (concussion) and Scott Sio (shoulder).
Star fly half Quade Cooper is set to miss another Test with a calf injury.