The Wallabies are hoping Taniela Tupou’s latest return from injury can deliver the spark needed to bring the best out of the Wallabies.
Tupou made his return from a long-term injury against the All Blacks at the MCG, only for the departing Red to suffer a rib injury.
His absence was compounded by a season-ending injury to Allan Alaalatoa, who had stepped up as captain.
However, Tupou was at his best on his return against France last week and produced an encouraging 68-minute stint.
Waratah and Wallabies prop Angus Bell was with Tupou along the entire way of his journey back to the Test arena.
The duo form the ultimate ‘thunder and lightning’ combo, proving they belonged against a full-strength French pack even in the thumping defeat.
When asked what made Tupou so special, Bell delivered an all-time response.
“He’s 140 kilos, he squats 300 kilos, and he moves almost at nine meters a second. He’s a beast,” Bell remarked.
“If I was on steroids for 10 years, I wouldn’t even look like him. He’s just an anomaly. It’s just something you can’t create.
“That’s what ‘Nela is and we’re just lucky to have him in our team and he’s not playing for Tonga.”
Forwards coach Neal Hatley was equally as pleased with Tupou’s return, praising his commitment and dedication to returning in the best shape possible.
“I think the biggest expectations are from him,” Hatley explained.
“He glanced at the bench after about 15 minutes and then everyone put their head down (saying) ‘Stay out the big fella you’re going alright’. He’s gone really well for a guy who hasn’t played for a long time, played 40 minutes against Tonga and then I think 12 minutes against the Kiwis at the MCG.
“For him to play against one of the biggest packs in European rugby and go 65-68 minutes deep, winning scrum penalties, carrying the ball, defending well, I think was a huge statement of intent from him of where he is.
“…He’s probably the lightest he’s been so he’s really applying himself so we got hope that he delivers to what his potential is because if he does that, we’re going to have a prop that’s going to be hard to stop.”