Wallabies news | Taniela Tupou reveals when he might return to rugby after lengthy injury recovery


On Wednesday, Taniela Tupou fronted the media in the iconic Wallabies jersey four months out from the Rugby World Cup despite not knowing whether he’ll wear it again this season.

The ‘Tongan Thor’ has been a spectator ever since snapping his Achilles tendon playing Ireland late last year.

It was a brutal end to the 2022 season, having only just recovered from a calf injury that sidelined him midway through the Super Rugby Pacific season with the Reds.

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It’s been a race against time to be fit for the World Cup ever since.

As the end of this year’s Super Rugby Pacific season nears, Tupou is only just gearing himself up to begin running again.

It means he’ll likely return to rugby by way of club-level competition, where he’ll have to prove he’s fit for the World Cup.

Even then, Tupou accepts there’s no guarantee he’ll be picked by new Wallabies coach Eddie Jones.

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“At the moment, I’m focusing on trying to get that strength back on my Achilles and calf,” said Tupou.

“I think I’m two weeks away from running and I can’t wait for that. 

“I’m not sure, maybe around July back playing some club footy – and who knows? It’s up to Eddie if he wants me to be part of the team.

“At the moment, my focus is getting back to running in two weeks’ time and hopefully get some game time in club footy with the brothers.”

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Tupou said he “didn’t get much” out of Jones during the Wallabies training camp, in which he watched on remotely. 

What direction he did get from the rugby tyrant was to practice his ball carrying and looking for space.

Assuming he is fit, the prop is hopeful he might be able to make a cameo in the condensed Rugby Championship.

If not there, then a Rugby World Cup warm-up against France might be his first appearance at the international level.

Tupou offered a resounding “no” when asked if he would have the confidence going into the Rugby World Cup having not had much in the way of preparation.

Ultimately, it’s all dependent on how well his Achilles has healed.

“I’m lucky enough, I’ve got a few months before the World Cup for me to get that confidence back, back playing club footy and trying to earn my way back into international level,” he explained.

“Obviously Super Rugby will finish up at the time, but if I only have one month or two before the World Cup, I won’t be as confident. 

“Obviously coming back from a big injury like this, you need a few good games to get that confidence back and I’m lucky enough I’ve hopefully got three months to try and get that back. Fingers crossed.”

Tupou admitted the road to recovery has been a hard one, albeit aided by rehabilitating alongside Angus Bell who ruptured a ligament in his toe.

The Tongan-born 27-year-old said his first injury wasn’t too tough to swallow having played rugby “non-stop” for years, but the second had him itching to return.

“After four months, I’m like, ‘you know what? I think I miss running’, and it’s hard watching my team, the Reds playing without me out there,” he said.

“I can only wish I was out there trying to help them out or be part of the team. This time around it’s a bit different. I sort of wish I was out there.

“Sitting back this time and looking back at what I’ve done in the jersey, I don’t think I’ve done enough.

“Hopefully when I’m back and if I’m back in the team I can get to the level where I think I can get to.”

The Wallabies will play South Africa in their opening Rugby Championship match on July 9 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

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