New Zealand
'Tongan Thor' weighs up overseas offers
ESPN Staff
July 15, 2014
Taniela Tupou has attracted offers from Australia and Europe © Getty Images

Frustrated by passport issues, Auckland teenage sensation Taniela Tupou says he will move to Australia and chase the gold jersey if he does not get the chance to play for New Zealand.

The 18-year-old student at Auckland's Sacred Heart College has been under the spotlight since video emerged of him destroying opposition defences to score three tries in 20 minutes two months ago.

Too much, too young

  • It's perhaps a sign of the times that a You Tube clip or two of a rather large young man bulldozing his way through some less developed school opponents can lead within weeks to him almost demanding to be included in the national reckoning.

    Taniela Tupou is big for his age and can run. But until he is exposed to more testing opposition, he remains no more than someone worth keeping an eye on. For him to start talking as if the world should be beating a path to his doorstep suggests someone needs to sit him down and have a quiet word.

    He may turn out to be the next Lomu. Statistics suggest there is more chance of him disappearing without trace. What is certain is that he is in no position to start making demands to play for New Zealand A.

"The Tongan Thor", who recently returned from a players' development camp after being selected in the Blues Under-18 squad, told the New Zealand Herald not being able to play for the national secondary schools' team because he did not hold a NZ passport had been hard.

"They said that 'if you're not on a New Zealand passport and you've been here for four years, you can play for the team'. But I've been here for four years and they said I can't play for the New Zealand A team. It's not fair.

Tupou moved to New Zealand since late 2010 and although the All Blacks would be his first choice, he said he was starting to look at options across the Tasman, where he had had offers. He has yet to be contacted by the New Zealand Rugby Union to talk about his eligibility.

"Maybe I'm not good enough to stay here," he said. "But that's one of my goals this year - to play for the New Zealand A team. If I can play with them, then maybe I'll change my mind from going to Australia. If I have the chance to play for the All Blacks, I'll take it. If I can't make the All Blacks and I can't make the Wallabies, then maybe I'll play for the other one - [Tongan national rugby team] Ikale Tahi."

Tupou scored within the first minute of play for the Blues Under-18s in Remuera on Sunday.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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