‘Taniela’ Tupou, a.k.a. The ‘Tongan Thor’, first came to prominence as a member of Tonga’s U15 tour to New Zealand. Not surprisingly he was quickly signed to a scholarship at Auckland’s Sacred Heart College. In 2014, and at just 18 years of age, Tupou became an overnight YouTube sensation after video of the 135kg prop’s three tries against Kelston Boys High School hit the web. That footage triggered a ferocious battle to secure the future of a clearly prodigious rugby talent. Eventually family won out. Tupou’s brother lived in Australia and he signed with the Queensland Reds for the 2015 season. Tupou later revealed that his heart was always with the Wallabies. “There was a reason why I moved here,” Tupou said. “As a young boy from Tonga all I wanted to do was play for Australia.” In 2017 that dream became a reality when he played his maiden Test against Scotland at Murrayfield.
Having served his three-year residency eligibility period Tupou was formally selected in the Wallaby squad for the end-of-season Spring Tour. He won a first Test cap off the bench when he replaced Ben McCalman (due to tight-head prop Sekope Kepu’s red card) in the loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.