Wallabies: Taniela Tupou glad for the return of his former Reds teammate Quade Cooper

Wallabies: Taniela Tupou glad for the return of his former Reds teammate Quade Cooper

Powerful prop Taniela Tupou says the return of a ‘changed’ Quade Cooper has been ‘good’ for the Wallabies.

Wallabies enforcer Taniela Tupou has hailed the calming influence of his hero Quade Copper as the pair get set to start together for Australia in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against South Africa at Suncorp Stadium.

Cooper is the talk of Australian rugby after his superb performance in the Wallabies’ 28-26 weekend upset of the Springboks on the Gold Coast.

In his first Test since 2017, the 33-year-old fly-half kicked eight from eight, including a 40-metre penalty goal after the siren to secure the Wallabies a much-needed win after three successive losses to New Zealand.

Powerful prop Tupou again had to be content with a spot on the bench but had entered the contest as a replacement for Allan Alaalatoa in plenty of time to celebrate Cooper’s matchwinning penalty goal.

With Alaalatoa set to return to Canberra for the birth of his child, Tupou is set to be recalled to the starting side, with many believing the man they call the “Tongan Thor” should be a permanent starter for the Wallabies.

Taniela Tupou is set for a start on Saturday against South Africa. Picture: James Worsfold/Getty Images

“If it’s me starting or coming off the bench, I’m just happy to do my job,” Tupou said.

But to start on Saturday alongside his former Queensland Reds teammate Cooper would be special for the 25-year-old Tupou.

“I looked up to him and he was a big part of me coming to the Reds (in 2016),” the front-rower said.

“I used to stay up all night watching him.”

Tupou said 71-Test veteran Cooper, who now plays his club rugby in Japan for the Kintetsu Liners, was a changed man on and off the field.

“He’s a lot more calm now. He knows what he’s doing … he controls the game better,” Tupou said.

“When I first came into the Reds there was a lot going on off the field with him, and five years later he’s a lot more mature and you can have a good conversation with him.

“We know what Quadey can do and we’ve all seen that. We know he can do something special on the field and he did that (on Sunday night) – he’s been good for us.”

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