In-Form Tupou Eyes Tonga Return
After making his 100th NRL appearance for unbeaten competition leaders Sydney Roosters, Daniel Tupou is looking to revive his representative career with Tonga in the May 6 Test against Fiji and at the end of season Rugby League World Cup.
Tupou, who made three back-to-back tackles to stop a South Sydney try and then force a turnover in Thursday night's 20-6 win, celebrated the milestone with a second-half try and produced two line breaks from his 11 runs of the ball, which yielded 113 metres on the left wing.
It was a performance the 25-year-old hopes will help earn him a new contract with the Roosters and a return to the international arena after representing Tonga at the 2013 World Cup and playing one Test for Australia the following season.
"If I got the chance I would definitely put my hand up to play for Tonga," Tupou said.
"The last World Cup was my first experience playing for Tonga and it was an awesome experience, and a learning one for me.
"I love playing for Tonga, especially the cultural experience as I grew up here [Australia] not really knowing much about the culture back in Tonga.
"I guess it will just come down to performance and hard work so hopefully I can make the side."
Raised in Sydney by Tongan parents Michael and Ofa, Tupou played juniors for Canterbury and Parramatta but it was the Roosters who recognised the potential of the 196cm winger and offered him an opportunity in 2012.
"To play my 100th match for them is a pretty humbling experience," Tupou said after the win over Souths.
"I love the club so much and I appreciate all of the support they have given me so I would be happy if I can play for just one team."
Tupou has played in three NRL grand finals and four State of Origins for NSW, and Roosters star Latrell Mitchell highlighted the value Tupou would also provide for the Tonga team when he described how he was helping him make the transition from fullback to centre.
"He is the type of player you want to play with," Mitchell said.
"He is a real humble bloke and keeps to himself but he is a hard-working man and it pumps me up a bit to see him running hard and doing the hard yards with the ball.
"In defence he is telling me to 'get up, let's go' and I give credit to him for helping me better my defence. I just do my own thing in attack and he plays off the back of that. He is instinctive and he is a great player all round."
Tupou's 57th minute try against Souths was his 60th for the Roosters and sealed their fourth win of the season after Rabbitohs winger Sitiveni Mocedreike had scored seven minutes earlier in his NRL debut.
Mocedreike played for Fiji in last year's Pacific Test against Samoa and he could line up opposite Tupou again at Campbelltown Stadium on May 6.
"I watched that game and he played really well so big ups to him for getting his debut with Souths," Tupou said.
"I think the sides gets named in a couple of weeks so hopefully I will hear something soon and if not I just have to keep my head down and work hard."
While Tupou is also hopeful of an Origin recall, the new international eligibility rules enable him to play for Tonga if not chosen for Australia without jeopardising his chances of NSW selection.
"A lot of the Poly boys are pretty excited about the rule changes," Tupou said
"That is a good thing for the Pacific Island sides.
"There is a lot of talent across the board in all the teams and a lot of the boys are looking forward to playing."
During the World Cup, Tonga face Scotland in Cairns on October 29 before moving to Hamilton, New Zealand, where they will play Samoa on November 4 and the Kiwis on November 11.
This article first appeared on rlwc2017.com