Tupou relishing more responsibility on and off the field

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Reds prop Taniela Tupou is racking up the most minutes of his career in 2020 but the in-form front rower feels he has more to give.

Tupou has been playing at least 70 minutes each week this season, including an epic 90-minute effort in their round two Super Time draw with the Rebels, and his improvement in fitness has been praised at Wallabies and Queensland level.

Asked if he fetl he was in the best shape of his career Tupou said he could still improve.

"I wouldn't say the best, I'm getting there and it's a lot better than last year I think," he said.

"A few things I need to work on, been playing some big minutes and ready for some more I guess."

While he's shouldering more on-field responsibility, Tupou is also stepping up away from the field as one of the 

Tupou was open earlier this year about his desire to step up as a bit of a mentor and he had a chance to do that with the debut of "Baby Thor" Zane Nonggorr last weekend.

Tupou presented Nonggorr with his first cap after a tough night at the for the debutant and the Reds in a record Super Rugby defeat to the Waratahs.

With the Reds scrum on the back foot, the teen was yellow-carded in the final minutes of the match and was visibly upset after the match.

Tupou said he understood how the youngster felt after a debut that didn't go quite as planned.

The 24-year-old had his first taste of Super Rugby in a trial against the Crusaders, packing down against All Blacks and feeling the heat.

"It was very special, that's something it was a first for me," he said.

"I didn't really know what to say, it kind of reminded me of my first game.

"It was a trial against the Crusaders and it was really tough for me because I came on against Joe Moody and I know the feeling and it was tough in the scrum and stuff.

"I didn't really say much to him in the speech but I spoke to him after the game.

"He did well at the start but he got the yellow card so he was a bit disappointed. There's a lot for him to work on and I'm pretty happy to help him out and stuff."

It's not just at Ballymore where Tupou is gaining more responsibility - he recently became father to a fur baby, 10-week old bull mastiff Thor.

Thor has become a regular presence around Ballymore and made a cameo at the press conference earlier this week.

"One of my mates, Alex Mafi, he had a bull mastiff and he died a few months ago and I really liked it, he was very big," he said.

"I bought this one a few months ago and he's my best friend now.

"He's a good boy. He's only 10 weeks but he can eat like me."

The Reds take on the Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday August 15, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.