Rebels excited to have Tupou in Super Rugby ranks

Fri, Nov 10, 2023, 5:09 AM
by AAP
Taniela Tupou is looking to be unleashed in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images
Taniela Tupou is looking to be unleashed in Melbourne. Photo: Getty Images

The Melbourne Rebels expect superstar Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou to hit the ground running, with their new recruit to start training with the Super Rugby Pacific club early next month.

Signed from Queensland, Tupou will lead a beefed-up pack alongside Test forward Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who spent last season playing for UK club Northampton.

Watch every game of Super Rugby Pacific LIVE on Stan Sport. Start watching Stan Sport now.

One-Test All Black midfielder Matt Proctor, England-capped halfback Jack Maunder and Reds utility back Filipo Daugunu are also moving to Melbourne, with all Super sides unveiling their squads on Thursday.

The Wallabies' World Cup campaign was dealt a massive blow when Tupou suffered a hamstring injury, which saw him miss crucial pool games.

But the 27-year-old was able to turn out for the Barbarians invitational team against Wales last weekend, and Melbourne coach Kevin Foote said he would be available to train on December 4, when the representative players were due back.

The Rebels now have Test forwards Rob Leota, Pone Fa'amausili, Josh Kemeny and Jordan Uelese all up for selection.

"Taniela's been really good - our medical team have been in touch with all the Wallabies player to support them," Foote told AAP.

"He comes in on December 4, so we get the World Cup guys pretty early.

"The scrum is pretty exciting for us and it's smart recruitment."

Former Reds backrower/lock Salakaia-Loto, who started training with the Rebels after missing selection for the France tournament, has already made an impression.

"Lukhan is a massive guy - he's 130 kilograms and he's a no-nonsense  guy," Foote said.

"He's come back to Australia and he really wants to win something, so I think the timing of us getting him is pretty awesome."