Tupou puts hand up to start against Springboks

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

A "refreshed" Taniela Tupou has declared himself ready to start for the Wallabies should coach Michael Cheika decide to throw the star prop in the deep end against the Springboks.

Tupou did not feature in either of the Wallabies' Bledisloe defeats due to a hamstring strain suffered two days before the Sydney opener and his impact was sorely missed.

Intense physio in the Wallabies' week off since has accelerated his rehabilitation and the tighthead put his hand up for a start should Cheika opt for a third tighthead starter in as many Tests, after Sekope Kepu and Allan Alaalatoa started against the All Blacks.

"If Cheik wants me to start I will take that with both hands," Tupou said.

"It's something I've been really looking forward to.

"I've been on the bench and I've been playing a few games but if Cheik wants me to start I'll take that chance."

Tupou said he wasn't quire back to full fitness but the 22-year-old confident he will be ready to go come next weekend.

"I wouldn't say it's 100 percent but it's a lot better than it was in New Zealand," he said.

"I started running last week in New Zealand slowly but now I have started to go full speed.

"From what they have said I am doing really well.

"This week I've been comfortable and just need to do a few tests to see if I'm able to go 100 percent and be ready to play."

Tupou participated in lineout and scrummaging drills during Australia's preparations in Auckland but was ultimately ruled out of that second Test.Tupou came into his own in June. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyHe admits running was "uncomfortable" at that point of his rehabilitation and medical staff also advised he could make the injury worse.

"I was close to playing but they were saying it was still bad enough to make it worse," Tupou said.

"I think we made the right decision to miss that game because we would have just made it worse.

"I was looking forward to those last two games but I'm looking forward to working hard and hopefully getting the chance to play this week."

Tupou said the mood was "sad" among the group after the Bledisloe losses but a week away from rugby helped refresh the squad.

"Obviously I didn't play those last two games but the boys were pretty sad and I'm glad we had the week off last week," he said.

"We're refreshed and ready to go out there this week."

The Wallabies face the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, kicking off at 8pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RUGBY.com.au radio. Buy tickets here.