Tupou’s big news spells big trouble for Wallabies
Australia’s hopes of reversing an ugly trend against England have taken a major hit with news father-to-be Taniela Tupou is in line to miss the second Test in Brisbane.
Tupou and his partner are expecting a baby boy on July 9 – the same day that the Wallabies will tackle the Eddie Jones-coached tourists at Suncorp Stadium.
By his own admission the ‘Tongan Thor’ hasn’t been at his best for Queensland this season but the freakish prop is arguably Australia’s most influential player – particularly against the set-piece strengths of England.
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Tupou told Wide World of Sports that he had spoken to Wallabies coach Dave Rennie about the impending clash and that it would be an easy decision to prioritise family over footy.
“One hundred per cent, especially if it’s your first one (child),” Tupou said.
“I’d 100 per cent miss a game to be there and support my partner… we’ve talked about that stuff (with Rennie) but it seems pretty clear.
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“We’ll see what happens there, hopefully things go well. It’s a boy and it depends if I get picked in the team at that time. We’ll see what happens.”
The Wallabies are well served at tighthead prop with Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa providing consistent workrate and leadership.
But if he does miss a Test, Tupou’s X-factor will be sorely missed against an England side that was won eight straight against Australia.
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Tupou, 25, was already preparing for dad life when he spoke with WWOS, cradling a box of Land Rover LEGO in the Wallabies hotel on the Gold Coast.
He backed himself to be a “fun dad” and the step up in family responsibility coincides with his leadership status within the Wallabies set-up.
Now in his sixth season as a Test player, he is cognisant of the need to offer more than just his considerable on-field abilities.
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“Especially coming into this camp, there’s a lot of new faces and younger boys,” Tupou said.
“I was so used to being the young pup but I look around and I’ve probably been around longer than half the squad. I’m not one of the older guys but I’ve been around a while now.”
Tupou said speaking up in team meetings and in general around the group was starting to feel more natural.
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“That’s not my thing but I think I have to. It’s good for me. I think a few of the boys like to hear my opinion on a few things and just to see me lead, you know. I’m so used to being that young guy, never saying anything and not being comfortable to just be myself.
“I think I’m becoming comfortable to just be myself and be a leader I guess.”
Tupou said his family in Tonga were safe and sound following January’s devastating tsunami.
He was buoyed by the support of the rugby community and Super Rugby Pacific’s fundraising initiative.
“People are doing it tough there but ‘Tries for Tonga’ has made over $100,000 already which is a lot of money,” Tupou said.
“I just hope that money goes where it needs to go. I know things can happen in Tonga and it goes to be people who don’t even need it, you know. So whoever runs the show there, hopefully it helps the people who need it most.”
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