Tupou vows to take next step in 2018

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Taniela Tupou has vowed to take his game to another level, after a bittersweet Wallabies debut in Edinburgh.

Standing among the Wallabies lineup singing the national anthem, the words to which he’d only perfected earlier in the day, Tupou had a fleeting chance to think of his family and the significance of that moment.

It was then the emotion of the day got to him for a second, with none of them able to be at Murrayfield in person, likely huddled around a TV at his aunt’s or sister’s house back in Tonga.

“It was funny this morning I was trying to learn the anthem before we sang it,” he said.

“When I sang it I was just looking to the sky thinking (about) my family, mum, my sisters.

“I was crying when singing the anthem because I was thinking of my family and everyone that had helped me get to this point.

“I'm sorry I didn't get the win for them.”

Though he was yet to speak to his family, he knew they’d be enjoying the moment just as much as he did, despite the final result.

Tupou wasn’t expecting much game time on Sunday, but when Sekope Kepu was red-carded, the 21-year-old suddenly knew he’d be thrown into the most frenetic of rugby cauldrons.

When the call came, it was the culmination of a lifetime of dreaming to play for Australia, even having grown up in Tonga and going to high school in New Zealand.

“When Keps got the red card and Cheika said 'Nela you're' on (at the 53-minute mark) I can't explain the feeling when I ran on,” he said.

“This is something I'll remember forever. It's so special and I'm so grateful for this opportunity from Australia.

“It's a lot quicker...if you knock off for one second , you miss it. You've got to be on the whole time.”

He didn’t have much opportunity to embark on one of the barnstorming runs that made him a YouTube sensation at high school, with Scotland dominating possession and territory, but a debut has only made the monster prop hungrier for another crack.

“For me as a young boy of only 21 as a front rower it's sort of 25 when you start your international career (often),” he said.

“I came on tour not expecting anything

“I was obviously lucky enough to get a chance...I promise to work hard and come back next year a better player.”