Rugby: Tongan Thor back after headbutting Liam Messam

Taniela Tupou was suspended after headbutting Liam Messam at the Tens. Photo / photosport.nz
Taniela Tupou was suspended after headbutting Liam Messam at the Tens. Photo / photosport.nz

Taniela Tupou, the Reds prop known as the "Tongan Thor", has been named on the reserves bench for his team's match against the Force after serving his two-week ban for headbutting Liam Messam.

The 20-year-old Tupou, who attended Auckland's Sacred Heart College, committed the act against the Chiefs captain in a match at the Brisbane Global 10s tournament, and subsequently missed a pre-season match and the Reds' victory over the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium.

It was a "silly act", according to Reds coach Nick Stiles.

Tupou was snapped up by the Reds following his well-publicised block-busting runs for Sacred Heart's first XV.

Tupou will replaces rookie Markus Vanzati on the bench in Perth in a match which has presented issues for the Reds in the past. The Reds had an abysmal 0-6 record in derby matches last season, and a limp round-two loss to the Force cost Richard Graham his job as coach.

"We were pleased to get the win at home in round one but this week presents a fresh challenge," Reds coach Stiles said.

"This is our first away trip of the season and also our first Australian derby.

"It's an important match and no doubt both teams will be fighting hard for a win. It's always an arm wrestle against the Force."

- NZ Herald

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