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Watch: Tongan Thor to debut, and a look at the Wallabies' young guns

By Dan Thomson
Taniela Tupou of Australia

Michael Cheika has always aimed to breed new life into his team with young and exciting players.

He has continued this idea during the Wallabies’ second half of the season where we have seen the selection of new players Blake Enever, Lukhan Tui, Jordan Uelese and Taniela Tupou. Tupou’s potential has been recognised by being named on the bench to potentially make his debut against Scotland this weekend.

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Here’s a closer look at some of the future stars of Australian rugby:

Blake Enever is now 26 with plenty of potential but had a relatively slow start to his professional rugby career. Enever was signed by the Queensland Reds in 2012 after an impressive campaign for the Australian U20s the previous year however during his 3 year stint at the Reds he only took the field once. Enever began to make a name for himself in 2015 when he moved south to the Brumbies and he established himself as a hard hitting lock forward in the Brumbies’ pack. He made his debut for the Wallabies last weekend against England which came as a surprise to him when he was a late call up due to an Adam Coleman thumb injury. Enever was only told he would be making his debut on Friday at lunch time just before the captain’s run.

Lukhan Tui is only a 21-year-old but he makes up for it with his physical presence on the field, being 123kg and 6’6″. After being noticed in the 2015 Australian U20s, Tui he’s been playing for the Queensland Reds for the past two seasons and got called up to make his international debut for Australia against South Africa in Bloemfontein earlier this season. Being originally born in New Zealand, he has to suffer the indignity of his family still supporting the All Blacks even when he was playing against them in the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup win in Brisbane. Despite injuring his thumb against the Barbarians in Sydney, Tui is back on the bench this weekend alongside fellow Reds teammate Taniela Tupou.

Like Tui, Jordan Uelese was also born in New Zealand but now calls Australia home after moving to Melbourne when he was 11. At only 20 years old Uelese made his debut for the Rebels this year and went on to make three appearances for the struggling Melbourne side. Despite his limited opportunities Cheika saw potential in young Uelese and named him on the bench in round 3 of the Rugby Championship in Perth. Uelese was named in the squad for the end of year tour but has not had any opportunities being stuck behind veterans Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau. With Moore stepping aside from professional rugby next year and Uelese being only 20 years old, there is certainly huge potential in the future.

Taniela Tupou has been well known for a number of years after becoming a YouTube sensation from his ‘Tongan Thor’ schoolboy highlights. Despite being born in Tonga and going to school in New Zealand, Tupou’s desire has been to play for Australia. However, he’s been unable to play for the Wallabies until now as he has only just qualified through World Rugby’s residency rules. It has taken Tupou some time to adapt to professional rugby particularly in the complex area of scrummaging, but he has been working on his game and will be ready to make the most of his opportunity if he takes the field for the Wallabies on Saturday at Murrayfield.

READ MORE:

Will the Wallabies unleash the Tongan Thor?

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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