Martin Taupau is becoming one of the best impact forwards in the Kiwis' modern era.

There have been a few good ones over the years, with Kurt Sorensen, Quentin Pongia, Mark Graham, David Solomona and Ruben Wiki coming to mind.

Players that can change a game in a few minutes, and the kind of men that become cult heroes.

Taupau's ability to swing the momentum of a match was illustrated again on Sunday, when his entry midway through the first half lifted the Kiwis team.


English players - and the fervent fans in the grandstand - winced whenever he got the ball, anticipating the heavy collision that was about to come. The 26-year-old dragged in defenders from everywhere, busted the defensive line and found open territory with one memorable 40 metre run.

"They are just beasts," said Shaun Johnson, referring to Taupau and the other heavy artillery off the bench. "Any shape that we can get around them to help them find those one on ones, it's going to be beneficial for us."

Taupau, along with the likes of Adam Blair and Jason Taumaolo, asked questions the English struggled to answer, testing and bending their renowned 'Wall of White'.

Taupau is a big match player. His club form has fluctuated over the years, and he copped some criticism for his recent Sea Eagles' season, despite averaging 64 minutes and more than 140 running metres a game.

But he rarely lets his country down. After a strong debut in the 2014 Anzac test, Taupau came to prominence in the Four Nations later that year. In both wins over Australia he made a series of powerful charges, scattering Kangaroos defenders like nine pins. He was strong again in the 26-12 Anzac test victory in 2015, and was one of the few to impress in Perth and Newcastle this year.

"Marty is a big player for us," said Jordan Kahu. "When you see him rolling through, it's a real lift."

Standing in the narrow corridors of John Smith's stadium, Taupau cut a satisfied figure after Sunday's 17-16 win, two weeks after the heavy defeat in Perth.

"We had a week and a half to address a lot of the issues that we had in our camp," said Taupau. "We had a lot of players that hadn't played prior to the Perth test [so] we worked hard. "[It was about] doing the simple things right. Run hard, do our jobs, get the quick play the balls and create the space for the backs to finish it."

The Kiwis are now on track to reach their first Four Nations final in the Northern Hemisphere, after falling short in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

"It's a great foundation for us but we need to build on the back of this," said Taupau.

"There are definitely a lot of things to work on"

The Kiwis travelled from Leeds to Manchester on Sunday, where they will be based until Wednesday for a training bloc. They then transfer to Birmingham, their Midlands base for the test against Australia in Coventry next Sunday (NZT), aiming to avoid a third successive defeat against the Kangaroos.

"It's not a point to prove to them but more to us," said Taupau. "[Sunday was] the base, that is the minimum that we have to perform."

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