The next wave of exciting Tongan talent coming through the Super Rugby ranks of the Queensland Reds, have joined the growing number of sporting identities to put their firm support behind the Queensland Tonga Rugby Union, as official ambassadors of the program.
Queensland Reds players Lolo Fakaosilea, Sam Talakai and Taniela Tupou have placed their rapidly rising reputations and support, behind Queensland Tonga Rugby Union after agreeing to take up official ambassadorship roles with the program.
Sam Talakai has enjoyed great success since the talented prop took a gamble on his rugby talents and relocated from Sydney to pursue his Super XV dream. Talakai’s punt has paid off handsomely with stellar performances for back to back NRC Championships with Brisbane City seeing him realise his Super XV ambitions with the Reds.
The talented prop sealed a great Super debut year when he won the 2015 Rising Rugby Star award for the Reds, showcasing the huge improvement Talakai is still capable of taking his game to in the future.
After winning the Premier Rugby Colt of the year award in 2014 that marked him as one the brightest prospects in Australia, Lolo Fakaosilea has not looked back since his prodigious talents were discovered as a junior in Emerald, Queensland.
Since then, the talented loose forward has progressed through practically every Australian age grade side since schoolboys, and got his first taste of first class rugby when he played for the Reds A in the Pacific Nations cup. The experience ensured Fakaosilea’s star seemed destined to hit the “Super” stratosphere.
This year, that is exactly what happened as Fakaosilea capped his rapid rise in the ranks, when he was rewarded with his Super rugby debut in front of family and friends against the Hurricanes.
The hype behind the player arguably better known by his nicknam, marked the power of the social media age to find hidden gems that might not have been spotted otherwise, in the unprecedented story of Taniela Tupou, also known as the “Tongan Thor”.
An overnight internet sensation after being captured outrunning backs as a prop, playing for the Sacred Heart 1st XV in New Zealand, the young prop’s well publicized affinity with Wallabies rugby, saw him arrive onto Australian shores.
The hammer like power running that used to terrorise 1st XV schoolboys teams in New Zealand, has now been unleashed for Brisbane club side Brothers against men in the Queensland Premier rugby competition, and most recently the NRC for Queensland Country, where his highlight reel exploits continue to this day.
Irrespective of his undoubtedly rare physical gifts, unlike many internet fads that have come before the Thor, that have risen and just as quickly faded into obscurity, it is the graft the young Tupou has put into his game that continues to holds him as an exciting hope of the future.
Tupou received rightful reward for his hard work when he was named alongside Talakai and Fakaosilea in the 2016 Reds squad, which has ensured the budding prop’s Super Rugby ambitions are still very much on the horizon
To be fair to Fakaosilea, Talakai and Tupou, all three players have already given a lot to the Queensland Tonga rugby program, with all three men regularly turning up to events and helping out wherever and however they can, unannounced and in their own time such is their keen community sense.
For example, It is not an uncommon sight to see the three players getting down to training to support team preparation or humbly running the water for Queensland Tonga teams during rugby events.
QTRU TV recently caught up with two of the three new QTRU ambassadors Sam Talakai and Taniela Tupou to get their thoughts after accepting their roles.
The official instatement of the three men as official ambassadors is just as much about Fakaosilea, Talakai and Tupou acknowledging and representing the rich Tongan ancestry all three men share, as much as it is an overdue gesture of overwhelming thanks from the Queensland Tonga Rugby Union to rightfully acknowledge the love and service all three men have already and continue to show the community and program.
The entire Queensland Tonga Rugby Union family is honoured to have Lolo, Sam and Taniela onboard as official ambassadors to inspire its young sportsmen and women.
By James Kite