Big Tane ready to roll for Chiefs


Friday, February 2, 2007    Photosport

Having to act as back-up for a side that included Tana Umaga, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, meant that starting chances did not occur all that often in the highly-competitive Hurricanes side.

But Tu'ipulotu will be in the thick of the action as the Chiefs take on the Brumbies in Hamilton on Saturday night.

In order to be ready for his chance, the Tongan-born Tu'ipolotu spent the summer sorting out a knee problem he had and once that was done he concentrated on building up his basic speed.

A lot of short explosive, speed acceleration work was on the menu and he says he hopes a few inside passes in Saturday's game might just provide the finishing touches to his work.

While admitting life in the Hurricanes situation was a little frustrating, he has been determined to take the chance he has with the Chiefs. He acknowledged that those who were in front of him in Wellington were all top players and while he often had to sit and watch, there was plenty to learn.

"It just made me work harder," he said.

His attacking play has never been in doubt, but like many who have moved into the Chiefs franchise, there has been a need to come to grips with the defensive strategy the side will employ after it was used so well by the Waikato side in the provincial competition last year.

"It was a bit hard to start with but you have to adjust and I feel I have slowly been coming to grips with it.

"After doing it a few times I have found it is basically about knowing your role," he said.

Against the Brumbies that will be especially important, and while they may be without their key playmaker in Stephen Larkham there is plenty else to watch out for.

Not the least is the man he rates as one of the best centres in the world in Stirling Mortlock, a player he last came up against in 2004 in Canberra.

"They are a pretty sharp team and I know what I am up against," he said.

Meanwhile, Tu'ipulotu is going from strength to strength in his new environment, not surprisingly noting that it is nice to be able to prepare for a game without having to deal with wind and rain.

"It is nice preparing in decent summer weather. It certainly helps with the training and is good for the body," he said.

Tu'ipulotu has been made to feel welcome in his new home and is looking forward to repaying that in his first outing.