Kepu welcomes Tupou's push at prop

by AAP

Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu is being driven by the form of emerging Test rival Taniela Tupou, heading into the mid-year home series against Six Nations frontrunners Ireland.

The 91-Test prop hasn't played a game this season due to suspension after being sent off last November for a shoulder charge on Scotland's Hamish Watson.

He's scheduled to return in the Waratahs' round four home Super Rugby game on March 18 against the Melbourne Rebels.

Highly rated Tupou, who made his Wallabies debut off the bench in Australia's final game of 2017, has wasted no time staking his Test claim.

"We've got a lot of young front-rowers coming through and there's a lot more competition now with young tighthead props coming through from other unions," Kepu said.Taniela Tupou has taken his game to another level this year. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"Taniela played a cracking game last week against the Brumbies for the Reds and that's awesome to see for Australian rugby in general.

"That makes me excited - it drives me to do well because you've got guys that are playing well in the position.

Kepu started in Australia's last two Test losses to Ireland.

"They've got a great leader in Rory Best and their forward pack really work hard," Kepu said.

"They have great back back-rowers and their halves combination and they have got a good core group of players in key areas.

"They've been building for a few years now and they've got guys in their prime.Sekope Kepu and Jack Dempsey will square off with the Ireland pack in June. Photo: Getty Images"They don't go away they don't shy away - they play for the full 80."

The Waratahs' scrum has struggled in their first two games without Kepu and he is eligible to play this weekend against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

"You definitely want to get out there as soon you can but, in saying that, it's been a good chance for me to stay back and get a bit bit more training under my belt and not have to do all the travel," Kepu said.

He said he had left behind the disappointment of getting sent off against Scotland.

"When it happened, it just felt like a normal clean out," Kepu said.

"When they blew it up and showed it on the big screen, I didn't realise how severe it was."

The Wallabies take on Ireland in June, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and radio. Buy tickets here.

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