Rebels rally behind Tupou after slow start

Tue, Mar 26, 2024, 5:14 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Highlights from the Round 5 clash between Melbourne Rebels and the Hurricanes in Super Rugby Pacific 2024

Melbourne Rebels prop Sam Talakai has backed fellow tight-head Taniela Tupou to deliver as they look to eradicate their poor starts against the NSW Waratahs.

Tupou has floated between the bench and starting in his opening month in Melbourne after making the move down to the Reds.

Catch every game of Super Rugby Pacific LIVE on Stan Sport. Start your Free Sport Trial Now

He has started just twice in the first five games of 2024, only lasting 32 minutes against the Reds a fortnight ago.

The 27-year-old has also dealt with a hand injury but Talakai was adamant Tupou was close to returning to his bulldozing best.

“He’s had a tough month and let’s not forget, the last 3-4 years he’s had a lot of workload on his shoulders whether it’s at the Reds or playing big minutes for the Wallabies, especially in a World Cup campaign come back from his Achilles injury,” Talakai said.

“We’re just going to be there for him and help him find his mojo because once he does, we know that he’s devastating. 

“It’s going to take time for Nela as he comes into a new environment for the first time since moving from Tonga. He played very well last week and I have no doubt that he will have the same impact this week.”

The Rebels are focused on turning around their slow starts after allowing the Hurricanes to build a 33-0 lead before half-time.

It's been a consistent theme for the club, who have conceded 12 tries in the first 30 minutes of their four defeats.

“This season, what’s just killing us is the accuracy in our game and teams understand and are attacking us at the start of games with a clean plan," Talakai believes.

“We need to understand tactically what we’re trying to achieve in the first five or ten minutes and get results.

“For us, it’s not about talking about what we can do, it’s about delivering on those actions on field.”

'Never a dead rubber': Ladder positions irrelevant as Waratahs-Reds rivalry adds spice to Super Rugby final round
White: Force determined to atone after Reds loss leaves 'sour taste'
'I’m forever indebted': Perese out to end Waratahs stint on high
Brumbies blocking out minor premiers discussions as Schoupp set to offset Slipper setback