Powerhouse Tupou in race against time for World Cup
NEWS: Taniela Tupou concedes he’s walking a tightrope to be ready for the Rugby World Cup despite targeting a July comeback from serious injury.
Tupou on Wednesday revealed he still won’t be running for another two weeks after tearing an Achilles tendon on last year’s spring tour to Europe.
He stopped short of suggesting it may take a leap of faith from Wallabies coach Eddie Jones to pick him in Australia’s 33-man squad for France 2023 but said he’d need game time before the global showpiece to restore his confidence.
“It’s up to Eddie if he wants me to be a part of the team,” the powerhouse prop said.
“At the moment, I’m focusing on getting the strength back in my Achilles and calf and I’m still two weeks away from running. Can’t wait for that.
“I’m not sure, maybe around July I’ll be playing some club footy and who knows.”
The Wallabies’ first Test of the year is on July 8 against South Africa in Pretoria and they have just four more Tests – against Argentina on July 15, New Zealand on July 29 and August 5 and a warm up against hosts France on August 26 ahead of their first World Cup match on September 9.
Undoubtedly the Wallabies’ most destructive front-rower when fit, Tupou candidly confessed to not having fulfilled his potential yet at Test level.
That’s the motivator driving the 27-year-old in his race against the clock.
“That’s something I’m working really hard towards,” he said.
“Sitting back this time and looking at what I’ve done in the jersey, I don’t think I’ve done enough and hopefully when I’m back and if I’m back in the team, I can get to a level that I think I can get to.”
Tupou believes time is on his side but doubts he can hit top form at the World Cup without any games beforehand.
“I’m lucky enough I’ve got a few months before the World Cup for me to get that confidence back playing club footy and trying to earn my way back to international level,” he said.
“But if I only had a month or two before the World Cup, I don’t think I would be as confident.”
After also being sidelined for six months last year with a calf injury, Tupou admitted he felt his world had coming crashing down when he was suffered his latest injury against Ireland last November.
“When that happened, I didn’t know much because I was on some stuff,” he said.
“But I woke up the next morning and everything just goes through my mind – last year, a World Cup year, everything’s on the line there for me so it’s a lot of pressure.
“But it was all out of my control and it took a few weeks for me to calm down.”