Big winger Tupou to help prop up Tigers
THE WILDCARD JOSH RAKIC
July 18, 2010
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WESTS TIGERS have finally found a long-term solution to their upfront woes, and in the unlikely form of international winger Tame Tupou.
The former Broncos flyer and four-time New Zealand representative feared his career was over after suffering a brutal knee injury in 2008 playing for Bradford Bulls. But now the 27-year-old has emerged as a shock contender to bolster the Wests Tigers forwards ranks as they continue their charge towards their first finals campaign since 2005.
Four games back from a two-year, injury-enforced sabbatical, the player once tagged ‘‘the new Tuqiri’’ by Broncos faithful could fill the interchange prop role for the Tigers as soon as next round should injuries continue to hamper the in-form side.
‘‘He’s played three games for Balmain at prop to get his match fitness up and he’s been impressive,’’ assistant coach Peter Gentle said. ''He hasn’t played football for two years but there’s a very real chance he could be playing NRL in the forwards for us this season.
‘‘Balmain are top of the table and he doesn’t look out of place. It’s just a matter of match fitness and injuries.’’
The shift to the forwards has the 117-kilogram Tupou excited and will no doubt be welcomed by fellow ex-Bronco Gorden Tallis, who famously remarked wingers were just people who hung around with footballers.
‘‘I’m a real footballer now,’’ Tupou quipped. ''I enjoy it more than the wing … You get more involved, there’s more work and you just smash and bash. I’ve always wanted to be in the forwards - I even asked Wayne Bennett when I was at the Broncos.
‘‘And there’s a shortage of them in our side, so Tim said I could be of use there and use my skills (grins). I’ve played four games now and I’m loving it. And as I get my speed back I’ll be able to use that to my advantage with Robbie Farah darting out of dummy half.’’
Tupou participated in his first defensive session with the Tigers last week and is confident of an NRL return in coming weeks - though his knee is still not at 100 per cent.
‘‘Tim Sheens came and told me to get my match fitness up and the calls and some of the angles to run and I’m a chance. I’m learning so much every week,’’ Tupou said.
''I’m just glad to be back, it’s been two years. I did my ACL and a micro-fracture - there was no cartilage back on the lateral side. They had to draw the bone and let it bleed and let it form some sort of cartilage, which is better than nothing.
‘‘There was talk that mightn’t come back at all. There were doubts from me even that I wouldn’t come back it’d been that long. Even walking on the leg was sore so I knew it was going to be a long road.’’
Meanwhile, Tigers discard Arana Taumata will come up against his old side tomorrow just three weeks after joining the Cowboys. He made it clear he has a point to prove by marking down the Tigers match as soon as he signed with North Queensland.
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This is good news but he’s got a long way to go from yesterday’s performance. The timing wasn’t there in attack or defence and the big fella missed a few tackles. It’s not from lack of trying or effort though, Tame hasn’t played in the forwards until 4 weeks ago so learning the plays and defensive structure is his biggest hurdle at the moment. The other thing to note in that article is that he only took part in defensive drills last week, which would also explain why his timing and reading in defence is rusty.
I’d like to see him get a spot on the interchange bench in FG, but he’s not ready just yet. I’d give him another month in State Cup before considering him.
Ummm….Tame Tupou…as a Prop…
You’ve probably watched him. Your not sold on the idea yet?
Not on yesterday’s performance Watto. I’ve seen him in 3 of the last 4 games he has played. The first of those was against Auckland where he destroyed them and scored a double, the second was against Newtown where he pulled off two very solid hits but was contained and missed a couple of tackles, and yesterday where he tried, but was caught out around the ruck.
I’d need to see gower in firsts before making any call.
He looks terrific in Reggies…but its such a big step to NRL…not saying he cant make it, but some guys are awesome reserve graders and very average first graders - Joel Caine comes to mind.
Gower however has an impressive resume and shouldve gotten a start by now.
If Tame is actually the next considered in line it officially proves that it is not how good you are but who you know at Wests Tigers.
He is a remaining season and a full and hard off season from even being considered close to understanding how to play the prop position in defence let alone excel at it