Super Rugby Pacific: Waratahs prepare to combat Reds’ Taniela Tupou

Date published: February 22 2022 - Dylan Coetzee

The Waratahs will be using knowledge shared and learnt at Wallabies scrum sessions as they brace themselves to face the Reds’ powerful scrummager Taniela Tupou in Super Rugby Pacific on Friday.

The Reds won Super Rugby AU off the back of a very dominant scrum that was powered by Tupou at tighthead, who will face up against Waratah Angus Bell. Despite being lighter than Tupou, Bell will have learnt a great deal from the tighthead in Wallabies camp. 

Shared knowledge

Waratahs assistant coach Pauli Taumoepeau believes much of Bell’s development is owed to the sharing of tips and secrets of the art of scrummaging in Wallaby training sessions, with Tupou freely sharing with Bell in particular. 

“Listening to the way those Wallabies guys talk, there is a great culture in the Wallabies,” Taumoepeau told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“That’s what I would take out of it. ‘Nela’ [Tupou] would scrum against ‘Belly’ and say, ‘This is where I got you’ so there is a lot of intel there. But you still have to stop it. It’s like [knowing] Jonah Lomu is going to run straight, you still have to stop it.

“You know Nela is going to scrum hard, you still have to stop it. There was a bit of intel there because of how close they were, and from all reports Nela is a great guy, in how he shares information and how much he wants Belly to be better for that gold jersey.

“So Belly is comfortable with what he knows, and we are working really hard with our scrum to be a holistic pack, rather than just Belly versus Nela.”

The Waratahs are set on having a mobile pack that counter teams with speed and agility but will not be able to run from combat and must hit it straight on as they did against the big Fijian Drua pack last week when they broke their 13-game winless streak.

“In general play, DC [Waratahs coach Darren Coleman] has said he wants to be a high ball movement team, but I heard a great saying: there is no weight class in the jungle,” Taumoepeau said.

“When you come to scrum and maul, there is no weight class. There are minimal places to shift weight. It is all one per cent left or one per cent right, and 99 per cent straightforward. It is just getting into the guys that you’re going to have to go toe-to-toe. It is just head down and go.

“I am a big fan of that combat, abrasive style of game. You have to make sure you have a bit of resilience about you, and trying to drill into them it’s not a pretty business up front.”

In a game that was delayed by 90 minutes due to lighting issues, the Waratahs beat the Reds in a trial game two weeks ago dominating the scrum battle in the first half.

“If I am to be brutally honest, it wasn’t the best lead up to the game standing on a field while the lights were out,” said Taumoepeau.

“Maybe we just reacted a bit better than they did. We know the lights will be on at Leichhardt and Brad Thorn came out and said we’d won the physical battle (in Roma), so no doubt he’d be saying that can’t happen again.”

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