FOR an out of this world prodigy turned internet sensation, Saturday’s Premier Rugby trial in front of 40 people and six dogs should have meant little to the Tongan Thor.
However, it was one of the most important moments of Taniela Tupou’s life, as he was finally able to play alongside brother Criff in their combined debut for Brothers.
In Taniela’s first game out of high school, where his incredible athleticism saw him become a YouTube star, the paltry crowd attempted to get a Thor chant going.
It did not work but even Taniela’s limited touches showed why the Queensland Reds were thrilled to pluck the 18-year-old from New Zealand.
If it was not for Criff though, there may not even be a Thor.
Criff, 25 and 122kg, sacrificed his football career to work 9-5 and provide for his 130kg “little brother” to live in Auckland while attending Sacred Heart College.
Born and raised in Tonga, Criff ditched a blossoming rugby career as a bruising No. 8 to travel to Australia for work to support Taniela.
The duo are so tight, they chose Premier Rugby club Brothers because they are brothers.
Now Taniela is a Reds contract holder, Criff can finally chase his own rugby dreams.
“I had to work to support this fella (Taniela),” Criff told The Sunday Mail. “I used to wish I could play football but I had no time because of work.
“I had to support my family and Taniela in New Zealand.
“Now he has had some success and I can have a go.
“This was the first time we played together. It is special. My dream is to have a future in rugby. Hopefully we can become a success together.”
Taniela attracted world headlines last year with his performances for Sacred Heart College first XV.
A stocky prop, his footwork, ball skills and speed seem absurd on such a frame. His long range tries in the Auckland high school competition made him an internet star and attracted offers from union and league clubs around the world.
His desire to be close to family and love of the Reds persuaded him to sign a two year deal.
He is unlikely to make his Super Rugby debut this year but is hopeful of breaking into the team next year with Criff.
“This game is much tougher and harder than high school. Training with the Reds though has made it better for me,” Taniela said.
“Hopefully next year we play for the Reds together. That’s the plan. Hopefully get some game time this year for Brothers then next year for Reds.
“We live together now. When I came here with the Reds, Brothers were the first to come to us and we thought, ‘Well we are brothers so lets play for Brothers’.”