Wallabies forwards Taniela Tupou & Lukhan Salakaia-Loto were pressed during their mid-week media conference on comments from the New Zealand media following the loss at Eden Park that the Wallabies didn’t ‘do genuine hard men’.

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The two Reds players downplayed the accusation, adding they are focused on trying to win back the Bledisloe Cup and that they are done with the talk. Tupou, in particular, was accused of being ‘nowhere near as tough as he thought’.

“It doesn’t really matter what they say to us, to be honest,” Tupou said. “They don’t know what’s going on here in camp. If that’s what they think, so be it. We’re trying to focus on us. Trying to better ourselves for the next game.

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Blues hooker James Parsons and Crusaders halfback Bryn Hall discussed the comments on the latest episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.

“For me, that is going to be posted on a dressing room wall and used as motivation for the Wallabies. There is no bigger shot across the bowel than that,” Parsons warned.

“You’ve said it, Hooper… Hanigan… Slipper… Hooper’s now a 100 [tests], Slipper is close to 100 if not already there… what’s the definition of ‘hard man’ in this article? I don’t know what it is, but those players I’ve played against and they are tough, nuggety, relentless and ruthless in all areas of the game of rugby.

“I don’t know if I even want to give it air time because I just don’t think it warrants it. I think it is to get a click, personally.”

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Parsons and Hall added that any team coached by Dave Rennie is going to have a standard of toughness that is a non-negotiable by the former Chiefs coach, and the comments will only inflame motivation within the Wallabies camp.

“It will be up there in that team room, no doubt, especially with a guy like Dave Rennie as coach,” Hall said.

“It will be there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,” Parsons added.

Bryn Hall also highlighted the intangibles of captain Michael Hooper that definitely meets the definition of a hard man.

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“I’m going to use Michael Hooper as an example, if we are going to use the definition of a hard man, that guy right there, the amount of times I’ve seen him impose his will, his tenacity and his courage into a team. That’s the definition of a hard man in my eyes.

“I think if you are looking around ‘being niggly’ and that, Jerome Kaino never did that,” Hall said,

“Would you say Pete Samu is soft? Exactly.”

Host Ross Karl asked the panel whether the comments were more directed at the ‘tough guy’ enforcer-type of hard man who likes to antagonise and pick fights, rather than the type who works hard and puts his body on the line. Karl pointed to the likes of Dane Coles who was involved in the push and shove at the start of Bledisloe 2.

“Well Tupou was the one who bowled him over about five metres backwards before that, so they definitely brought it,” Parsons said, “and you saw fifteen men from each side come in.”

“I think just because of the result, it’s been taken way out of context.”

Listen to the full episode of the Aotearoa Rugby Pod below:

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