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Will the Wallabies unleash the Tongan Thor?

By Ben Smith
Taniela Tupou

YouTube sensation Taniela Tupou, known as the Tongan Thor, will be residentially qualified to play for the Wallabies next week in time for the November 25 Test against Scotland in Edinburgh, putting him in line for a test match debut.


“I’m eligible next week but it doesn’t mean nothing,” Tupou told the Courier Mail after flying into London to join the Wallabies squad.

“I’ll be giving training everything. If he (Cheika) thinks I’m ready now, that’s good … if he thinks I’ll be ready in two year’s time, I’ll wait two years.

“Guys like (prop) Sekope (Kepu) I grew up watching as a little boy in Tonga. Now I get to train with him, learn from him and hopefully I get the chance to play with him before he retires.”

It’s easy to forget Tupou is only 21 years of age, a spring chicken in terms of a prop, however the hype created by his YouTube highlights as a schoolboy put potentially put unrealistic expectations him.

“I want to change it so people are not saying ‘I saw you on a YouTube clip’ but ‘I saw you playing hard in a test match’,” Tupou said.

Tupou’s development pathway in Australia has been gradual, he started at Brothers Rugby Club in Brisbane where he spent a year playing premier grade club rugby in 2015. Tupou was an integral part of winning a club championship with Brothers in 2016, before winning the provincial title with Queensland Country in the National Rugby Championship this year.

Tupou’s introduction to Super Rugby has also been patient, after last year’s tough pre-season matchup against the Crusaders as a 19-year-old the Reds have been cautious. Tupou was tested against the vastly more experienced Owen Franks that night but was not ready for scrummaging at that level.

This season has seen more regular Super Rugby time for Tupou after an explosive showing of raw power in the Brisbane 10’s, remembered by most for putting Chiefs and All Blacks flanker Liam Messam into the stratosphere.

His role with the Reds is much more traditional for a prop. Seeing Tupou carry between 8-10 times, taking a mid-field crash or counter-attacking from fullback isn’t what he does for them – although everyone would like to see it.


It is also not likely to be the role the Wallabies ask him to play either if he debuts next week. It will hopefully come with time as Taniela gets more comfortable at Super Rugby, which is why the best is yet to come – even though it seems we have been waiting for a while now.



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