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Taniela Tupou returns for Wallabies team to play England in second Test

Taniela Tupou has always spoken as he plays, with a brutal straightforwardness.

So the Wallabies enforcer, named to play in the second Test against England after two months sidelined with a calf injury, was just being himself when he revealed he had enjoyed the enforced absence, believing it has refreshed him for the task ahead.

Tupou was hardly in the best frame of mind before his injury, making it clear that he wanted a break from Queensland Reds overseas – favouring a sabbatical in Japan.

He remains a key man for the Wallabies – especially with Allan Alaalatoa ruled out due to his concussion in game one.

“I’ll tell you what, it’s probably unfair saying this, but I’ve actually enjoyed these last few weeks being off, not playing,” Tupou told reporters on Thursday.

” I would have loved to have played last week and played the last weekend for the Reds, but I did not miss it one bit. I enjoyed being off the field and enjoyed not having to get ready to play.

Taniela Tupouposes during the Australian Wallabies 2022 team headshots session on June 24, 2022 in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Taniela Tupou. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

“I’m ready to play to now. But when I was injured, I was not missing it and I didn’t want to come back and play anytime soon. But I’ve done a lot of work with some of the guys and I’m in a good space now and I think I’m ready to get out there and have a bit of fun.”

Asked if the break might have been the best thing for his career, Tupou replied: “100 per cent. I think being injured was the best thing to ever happen to me mentally and physically and I was ready for something different.

“That happened and I was staying away from footy, I was spending a bit of time with the missus and the family and now I’m ready to play again.”

Tupou admitted he hadn’t paid attention to last week’s game – he was in hospital with his wife a day after the birth of his first child, a son named Nella.

“Crazy, crazy experience. I haven’t had much sleep but I’m enjoying it,” he said. “From now on I have to sleep in camp. For the next few days I have to prepare well.

“I just know they’ve got a big pack with world class front rowers, and they are going to come hard this weekend. They didn’t get what they wanted last week.”

Tupou did too, a big little chip off an imposing block.

“Honestly, it hasn’t really hit me yet,” he said.

” Sometimes at training I’m running around and thinking, ‘geez, f–k’. Maybe it’s going to hit me in a few weeks’ time. I’m not sure, but at the moment I’m definitley going to go out there and I’ll be thinking of him when I get on the field this weekend. It’s not really about myself anymore, there’s someone else.”

Tupou set himself up as a villain for the series by appearing in the Stan commercial – the one where he gate crashes a stereotypical English tea party.

“The boys have been giving me a bit of shit about it. We were watching State of Origin and every break there’s bang, me. They pay me good money, so I don’t mind doing it,” he laughed.

This week he’ll get a tugher reception than he did from the Poms in the TV ad, with Ellis Genge laying in wait.

“I’ve heard a lot of talk about him,” Tupou said. “He absolutely killed it in that comp in the UK and obviously he captains his team and as a loose-head he can run the ball, he can tackle and he can scrum.

“This week, if he’s starting, it’ll be my first time playing him and it’s a big challenge knowing what he can do. I just need to focus on myself.

“You know what they say, it’s not personal but it is personal. I’ll do what’s best for the team, but when you get out there you want to be better than your opposition and he’ll try to do the same thing. He’s going to try and give it to me and smash me and I’ll be doing exactly the same thing, get out there and give it to him. We’ll see what happens.”

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