Wakefield Wildcats: Tupou has settled in and is raring to go
The vastly experienced front-rower has 11 Test caps to his name as well as four appearances for New South Wales and played 234 times in the NRL for Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks.
His signing, on a two-year contract, was a statement of intent by Wildcats after they finished 11 points adrift at the bottom of last season’s table and he has made it clear he will be giving everything for his new cause.
“You don’t want to come over here and muck around, or I don’t,” the 32-year-old stressed. “I am pretty competitive and I think I am old enough to know it is better if you are playing good footy. You enjoy everything better if you are playing good. That’s what I want to do.”
It will be Tupou’s job to lead Wildcats’ pack and he is confident the English game will suit his style of play. He added: “I always used to follow it. It is a different type of game, it is exciting and I always thought one day I am going to have a crack and see how I go - and here I am.
“People say I am an attacking-type player, so I hope it suits me. We will see, I played last week (against Featherstone), but I don’t think I can take much from that, though I did learn a few things.”
After avoiding relegation by beating Bradford Bulls in last year’s million pound match, Wakefield will again be most pundits’ tip for the drop. But Tupou, who had the option of staying at Cronulla, said: “Towards the end (of 2015) I didn’t see a team that was that bad.
“I saw a hungry bunch of boys and that was part of the reason for coming here. They were so eager and it was a challenge. They have made changes already, so I’ve heard and the training we are doing and the way the club is going, I think we have to be better.”
Brian Smith will be another key figure for Wildcats this term and Tupou is relishing working with the experienced Aussie coach. He said: “I’d never met him before we talked about coming here, but he coached my two younger brothers and they had really good things to say about him.”
Tupou admitted it hasn’t been easy to settle in England, in the middle of winter, but a trip home over Christmas left him feeling a lot better about the move.
He said: “I was here for three weeks and that was a bit tougher than this time around. I got here and we were training really hard and I didn’t get to see much of anywhere – it was dark when I went training and dark when I got home.
“That was challenging, but I went home for a few weeks and I got to bring my family back and it is a totally different experience now. We are excited and I am enjoying it.
“I got to see everyone at Christmas and they gave me a big farewell, which was good because it is a big move. It is totally different now and I am looking forward to the season.”