- 25 Age
- 135kg Weight
- 175cm Height
‘Taniela’ Tupou, a.k.a. The ‘Tongan Thor’, is a gentle giant of a man who has realised the enormous potential that engulfed him as a schoolboy.
Tupou 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 Tupou played his maiden Test against Scotland at Murrayfield and two years later he won selection to his first Rugby World Cup.
2020 has seen Tupou take his game to a whole new level, particularly in terms of physicality, endurance and ball play. His week-in, week-out performance for the Reds during Super Rugby AU were a sight to behold and it was no surprise when he was a runaway winner of the Pilecki Medal, awarded to Queensland’s players’ player of the year.
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 his 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.
Tupou collected 10 Test caps, four as the starting tight head prop and six as a replacement. A hamstring injury suffered in the Captain’s run ahead of the first Bledisloe Test ruled him out for the opening two matches of The Rugby Championship.
He earned a further eight caps, all as a replacement tighthead, however the start to his first Rugby World Cup tournament was upset when he suffered concussion in a training mishap to miss the crucial pool match against Wales