A calf injury suffered by Taniela Tupou is set prove costly for the Queensland Reds and potentially the Wallabies.
Queensland’s Super Rugby Pacific title hopes have suffered a crushing blow, with “once-in-a-generation” prop Taniela Tupou set to miss the remainder of the Reds’ campaign.
In what could also place the powerhouse front-rower in doubt for Australia’s three-natch series against England in July, Tupou is facing an indefinite period on the sidelines with a serious calf strain.
He suffered the injury in the first half of Queensland’s 27-25 loss to the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium last Friday night.
Tupou is a huge loss for the Reds, and potentially the Wallabies, such is his scrum presence and powerful running.
“He’s obviously hard to replace because he’s a once-in-a-generation type player,” Reds lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto said.
“He hasn’t had an injury like this in such a long time, if any injury, so we’re pretty down for him, but at the same time he’s got lot of stuff going on off the field.
“He’s got a little boy on the way … so it’s probably a good thing for him to get away before hopefully we’re in finals, and the big Tests up ahead for him.
“While it’s a bad thing from a rugby point of view, mentally and off the field, it’s probably good for him to get that freshen up that he needs.”
The Reds again play at Suncorp Stadium this Friday night when the meet the Highlanders, is a match the Queenslanders can ill-afford to lose after successive defeats against Kiwi opposition.
“We like to think we’re a different beast at home, and unfortunately we weren’t that (against the Chiefs),” Salakaia-Loto said.
“You’d be pretty shocked if you weren’t disappointed after a loss like that. The game was there to be won.
“We’ve got another opportunity this week. We’re not playing too bad. It’s just those little things that are letting us down.”
While the Reds are yet to beat a team this season from the New Zealand section of the competition this season, the Brumbies, the NSW Waratahs, and the Melbourne Rebels have, ad that has pleased Wallabies coach Dave Rennie.
“It’s important that we do well against the Kiwi sides,” Rennie said on Monday while in Melbourne for the announcement of a Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash between Australia and New Zealand on September 15 at Marvel Stadium.
“It gives our players confidence to know that they are playing against some of the best players in the world and they can stand up.
“A big challenge for our Super (Rugby) sides is developing enough depth to be consistently competitive, but we’d be confident that we can pick a really strong 23 and that the bench that we would have coming into the game could add value, and that’s crucial against the All Blacks.”
2022 Rugby Championship matches –
Wallabies v Argentina, August 6, Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza
Wallabies v Argentina, August 13, Estadio del Bicentenario, San Juan
Wallabies v South Africa, August 27, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Wallabies v South Africa, September 3, TBC, New South Wales
Wallabies v New Zealand, September 15, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne
Wallabies v New Zealand, September 24, Eden Park, Auckland