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'As a prop, that's a dream': Daunting Wallaby pack awaits Scotland

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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The addition of European-based stars Will Skelton and Rory Arnold has bolstered the Wallaby pack ahead of this week’s test match against Scotland at Murrayfield.

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Taniela Tupou is excited about the prospect of linking up with the pair, saying that it is a ‘dream’ scenario to have the power of Will Skelton behind him at scrum time in the second row.

“We were just talking about it yesterday. Because I’ve never really played with Will, just imagine having him behind me or Allan or any of the tightheads,” Tupou told the media.

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“As a prop, that’s a dream. You don’t have to do much, you just be in good shape and Will will do the rest, so looking forward to it.”

The Queensland Reds’ tighthead prop has emerged over the last 12 months as one of the most devastating front rowers in the game, and at 25-years-old has matured a lot with his game since he last played at Murrayfield as a debutant in 2017.

Tupou came off the bench in the midst of a catastrophic performance by the Wallabies, as Scotland piled on the points to rout Australia by a score of 53-24.

“It’s funny because, back in 2017, I came yesterday, got my key, went into the room, they put me in the same room on the same level as I was a few years ago, and we’re playing on Sunday, When I made my debut, I remember my debut was on Sunday too, so it’s just funny how everything can work,” he said.

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“It’s good to be back here and looking forward to hopefully playing this week.”

Tupou admitted that he hasn’t watched the tape of that outing, but is keen on reversing the result on Sunday.

“I haven’t watched the game since I played, but not the best game, so hopefully we change that around this weekend.”

With 35 tests under his belt now, Tupou returns to Murrayfield with a different mindset this time with experience having become a central figure within Dave Rennie’s squad either as a starter or as a damaging impact player late in games.

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As a result, Tupou says he is enjoying this tour as an older member of the touring squad who is able to just be himself around his teammates.

“To be honest, I think I’ve enjoyed this one a lot better,” Tupou explained.

“I’m a lot older and I’m not the 18-year-old kid who’s just joined the team. I can be myself with the boys and I can offer something, too, not just being around here not knowing if you’re going to play or not and it’s just a lot different coming this time, but, again, looking forward to it, man.”

Although Will Skelton hasn’t yet played with Taniela Tupou, the pair were together in the squad on Skelton’s last European tour on 2016 when the younger prop was an apprentice.

He said easing back into the squad with Tupou and his other new teammates has been rather easy and was positive about the Wallabies environment.

“I met Nela in 2016 on my last Spring tour. There’s a few guys I hadn’t met, but they’re very welcoming. You can see the camaraderie in the group, everyone cares about each other.

“There was a bit of banter on the first day, too, which was nice. The Aussie accent, I don’t know if I’ve missed that – Nela’s Aussie accent.”

Skelton said the newcomers are getting up to speed quickly on the style of play that they will play against Scotland, with a ‘simple’ shape that they plan on running. With the power now at Rennie’s disposal, you would expect to see a lot of big men carrying the ball.

“We went through a bit of detail last night. The shape’s quite simple. It’s something that, as a rugby player, you’ve got to get used to quickly,” he said.

“We’ll see what Rens is thinking, but we’ll definitely be putting our hand up, all of the boys who have come in, because we’re not here to just sit back and train for the three weeks.

“We want to try and be involved and put our hand up for selection. We’ll be trying to get our head around it for Sunday with a seven-day turnaround.”

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