Taniela Tupou, affectionately known as ‘Tongan Thor’, has signed a contract extension that will see him remain at the St.George Queensland Reds until the end of 2018.
Tupou is yet to make his Super Rugby debut, but impressed enough in his first year of training with the squad to secure an upgrade to his contract ahead of the 2016 season.
The 135kg, 19-year-old prop initially signed with the Reds ahead of the 2015 season, following impressive performances in New Zealand schools Rugby.
He spent the 2015 season training with the Reds senior squad, while playing BLK Queensland Premier Rugby for Brothers. He went on to make his National Rugby Championship debut for Bond University Queensland Country, where he furthered his development in set piece, while also scoring some trademark tries.
Queensland Rugby Union Executive General Manager – Reds, Daniel Herbert, said: "Richard (Graham) and Nick (Stiles) have invested a lot of time into settling Taniela into the Reds family in 2015 and developing his technical skills.
“Taniela has impressed everyone, not only with his athletic ability, but with his enthusiasm to learn and improve.
“We look forward to continuing his development to reach his Rugby potential and we are excited by the contributions he will make to our team and the Reds environment over the next three years.”
Tupou said he was excited by the opportunity to continue his development at the Reds.
“I’m very happy to be at the Reds until 2018. I just love this place,” he said.
“When I came here from school I didn’t realise how hard it would be to play Super Rugby, but I’ve learnt a lot in the last year and I know I have to keep working hard to get a chance to play for the Reds.
“I just want to keep learning and hopefully I will get my opportunity to play Super Rugby for the Reds soon.”
POB: Tofoa Island, Tonga
School: Sacred Heart College, Auckland
Representative honours: Tonga U14 (2009-2010), Auckland U16 (2011-2012), NZ Marist U18 (2013), Pacific Barbarians (2014), Queensland Reds Wider Training Squad (2015), Queensland Country NRC (2015)