'Tongan Thor' Taniela Tupou wants to be a Wallaby
May 16, 2014
Taniela Tupou, the Tongan-born Auckland schoolboy who has become an internet sensation this week, dreams of playing Test rugby for Australia.
Tupou, 18, made headlines around the world after video of his three tries for Sacred Heart College last weekend hit the web, the 135kg prop showing rare speed and skills for a player of his size. Now the Daily Telegraph reports the teenager is on the radar of "four countries, two codes, at least 11 clubs", suggesting "NRL sides Newcastle Knights and New Zealand Warriors want to sign him, along with five French rugby clubs, one English rugby club, as well as Kiwi Super Rugby franchises the Chiefs and Blues".
The report also states "Tupou has been on the Waratahs' radar since well before the hat-trick video reached the masses, with NSW's chief scout Tim Kelaher understood to have picked him as a potential target months ago".
Tupou's manager, Daniel O'Loughlin, has prevented the youngster from talking to the media, but the schoolboy's older Australian-based brother Criff, told the Daily Telegraph that his sibling "always growing up, he wanted to play for the Wallabies or the Kangaroos … because the Wallabies always have a lot of Tongans in their team, and the All Blacks don't have too many".
Tupou already has been barred from playing for New Zealand Schools team, a traditional stepping stone to the All Blacks, because he does not have a New Zealand passport. New Zealand Rugby and the New Zealand Schools Rugby Council have decreed that only players with New Zealand passports can be picked, a stance that Sacred Heart principal Jim Dale has labelled "naïve".
"If there are talented kids like Daniel and they are deemed to be good enough, they should be picked - they should be given the opportunity," Mr Dale told the New Zealand Herald.
"Daniel has been here in New Zealand since late 2010 and he's a wonderful kid. I'd hate to think that he'd be lost to another code or to another country who could be more accommodating."
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