Australia call up 'Tongan Thor' to tackle England - and he vows to smash Ellis Genge

·3 min read
Taniela Tupou in action for Australia - SHUTTERSTOCK
Taniela Tupou in action for Australia - SHUTTERSTOCK

Australia have called upon 21-stone tighthead prop Taniela Tupou for the second Test against England and the “Tongan Thor” has vowed to smash Ellis Genge in Brisbane.

Tupou is one of seven changes that Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie has made from the squad that won 30-28 in the first Test in Perth. Matt Philip replaces the suspended Darcy Swain in the second row while in the back division full-back Jordan Petaia, wing Tom Wright and outside centre Hunter Paisami all come in. Noah Lolesio is retained at fly-half having come in for Quade Cooper, who suffered a calf strain during the warm-up at the Optus Stadium.

The most eye-catching selection is that of Tupou, who missed the first Test with a calf injury. His partner also gave birth to his first son, Nela, last Friday and Rennie believes he can have an instant impact both in the loose and the tight.

“He can certainly carry, he's got good footwork and he's amazingly explosive for a big man,” Rennie said. “He can certainly hike. The scrum is the big thing. He's very, very powerful. We're excited to have him back.”

Tupou replaces Allan Alaalatoa, who suffered a concussion, and is likely to go up against Genge, the England loosehead, for the first time in his career. Both players perform similar roles as their side’s dominant ball-carriers and energy-givers, with Tupou relishing the opportunity to stamp his mark.

“I have heard a lot of talk about him,” Tupou said. “I saw him absolutely kill it in the English comp with his team and he has captained his side. As a loosehead, he can run the ball, he can tackle and he can scrum. This week if he is starting, it will be the first time I have played him.

“It is not personal but it is personal. I will do what is best for the team but when you get out there you want to be better than your opposition. He is going to come out there and try to give it to me and smash me. I will do exactly the same thing. I want to give it to him. We will see what happens out there.”

While Australia have lost five players to injury, there is still considerable annoyance that Swain was suspended for headbutting Jonny Hill who got away with an open-palmed push on the Wallabies lock. Rennie expects more provocation in Brisbane and expects his team and the officials to be on the lookout for any dirty tricks.

“I've mentioned that,” Rennie said. “The officials will be pretty sharp around it. It was surprising that the first offence, the push in the face that was pretty aggressive, wasn't seen by any of the officials and if it had been I think it would have been dealt with and Darcy wouldn't have been facing the judiciary. Everyone's awareness around that is a little sharper now.”

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