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Taniela Tupou lights fuse on 2nd Test with remarks about Ellis Genge

By PA
Taniela Tupou of the Wallabies looks on during The Rugby Championship match between the Australian Wallabies and Argentina Pumas at QCB Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

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Taniela Tupou has lit the fuse for a thunderous collision with Ellis Genge when Australia face England in Saturday’s second Test by revealing they will be united by a mutual desire to “smash” their rival.

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Dubbed the ‘Tongan Thor’, the bulldozing 21 stones 4lbs Tupou has been restored to the Wallabies’ front row after missing the 30-28 victory in the series opener because of a calf injury.

It sets up an explosive head to head with Genge, the combative England prop who will set the emotional intensity for Eddie Jones’s tourists at Suncorp Stadium.

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“It’s not personal, but it is personal. I will do what is best for the team but when you get out there you want to be better than your opposition,” Tupou said.

“Ellis Genge is going to come out there and try to give it to me and smash me. I will do exactly the same thing. I want to give it to him. We will see what happens out there.

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“I have heard a lot of talk about him. I saw him absolutely kill it in the English comp with his team and he has captained his side.

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“As a loosehead, he can run the ball, he can tackle and he can scrum. This week if he is starting, it will be the first time I have played him. It will be a big challenge but I need to focus on myself and what I can do.”

Tupou’s bulldozing carrying has been a feature of Wallabies highlights reels, but coach Dave Rennie insists any tackle-busting runs are considered as a welcome addition to his core responsibility.

“Taniela can certainly carry. He’s got good footwork and he’s amazingly explosive for a big man. He can hike,” Rennie said.

“The scrum is the big thing. He hasn’t played a lot of rugby lately. We want really good set piece from him initially and anything else will be a bonus. If he can give us some go forward and quicker ball, that will help.”

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Tupou is one of five changes made by Australia for the second Test, all of them enforced by injury or suspension.

Second row Matt Philip replaces Darcy Swain, who has been banned for two weeks after head butting Jonny Hill at Optus Stadium.

Centre Hunter Paisami, wing Tom Wright and full-back Jordan Petaia are also drafted into the starting XV with Australia wearing their First Nations jersey for the first time this year.

Rennie has braced his Wallabies for niggle from England after believing they deliberately targeted Swain in the first Test, primarily through Hill who shoved his lock rival in the face early in the match.

“The officials will be pretty sharp around it. It was surprising that the first offence, the push in the face that was pretty aggressive, wasn’t seen by any of the officials,” Rennie said.

“If it had been I think it would have been dealt with and Darcy wouldn’t have been facing the judiciary. Everyone’s awareness around that is a little sharper now.”

Australia team to face England at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on Saturday July 9, KO 10:55 BST:

J Petaia, T Wright, H Paisami, S Kerevi, M Koroibete, N Lolesio, N White, A Bell, D Porecki, T Tupou, M Philip, C Neville, R Leota, M Hooper (capt), R Valetini.

Replacements: F Fainga’a, S Sio, J Slipper, N Frost, P Samu, J Gordon, J O’Connor, I Perese.

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