Thorn: Tupou’s scrum work is superb

Reds coach Brad Thorn says Taniela Tupou’s scrum dominance is a result of the hulking prop’s power and hard work rather than illegal tactics.

A report on Wednesday said national director of rugby Scott Johnson had organised for Tupou to be scrutinised by scrummaging experts due to “negative publicity” and accusations of “angling in” instead of packing straight.

Thorn leapt to Tupou’s defence, saying the 132kg tighthead prop had matured in his scrum work and should not be doubted because of his success.

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“You can talk about him, but it’s a pretty easy equation – he is a big, powerful tighthead who has learnt to love the scrum,” Thorn said.

“You’d be surprised if he wasn’t being dominant … he’s worked hard on his craft. As the years go by, he’s just going to grow in stature more and more.

“Taniela is 24 now, he’s been to a World Cup, he’s just coming into that time. There’s maturity coming in.

“He wanted to lead. There’s just that presence about him which I’ve seen in my career around guys.”

Thorn said if Tupou was playing in Europe, his scrummaging would be revered.

“It’s cool that he’s here in Australia, because guys like Taniela are just loved in France, they’re loved in Europe,” he said.

“The tight five in Europe, I’ve played there, it’s pretty cool – they’re loved.

“One pack dominating another one, that’s all that matters.

“We’ve got a real scrum focus here (at the Reds). Eight men working hard for each other. He’s in a pack that likes scrumming, and the coaches like it.”

Placed second on the table, the Reds hope to secure back-to-back Super Rugby AU wins for the first time when they meet Western Force at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night.

“We’re a work in progress and we’re right in this (competition) and we want to be there at the pointy end,” said dual international Thorn, who added the key to the Reds’ title hopes was a continuation of the defensive might they showed in their 19-3 weekend win over the Melbourne Rebels.

“Every time I’ve won a title, we’re usually the lowest numbers (in points) defensively.

“We focused a lot on it at the Broncos, we focused a lot on it at the Crusaders, the All Blacks … it’s just so important.

“What it says a lot is about your attitude, it says a lot about your mindset as a team, it says a lot about your connection (and) the spirit of the team.

“Everyone loves to attack, everyone loves to have a run with the footy, but in defence it’s not as glamorous. You put your body on the line … if you get that side of your game right it certainly bodes well for opportunities for the team going forward.”

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