10:35pm, 12 May 2022
Taniela Tupou says he’s nearing a decision on his rugby future as he weighs up a rich overseas move, but Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is confident he won’t leave.
Foreign clubs are salivating for the services of the 25-year-old, who has silky hands to go with fast feet that belie his wrecking-ball frame.
But Rugby Australia want that, as well as his off-field charm and commercial pulling power, as the face of their own brand ahead of a 2027 World Cup in Australia where a 30-year-old Tupou could star.
“We’re pretty positive about being able to keep Nella,” Rennie told AAP on Friday.
“He’s important to us and he wants to stay; we’re in discussions with his agent and it’s been very positive.
“He’s here until end of next year and we’re looking to extend him now.
“He’s got a genuine point of difference (on and off the field), doesn’t he, and he loves it, enjoys the interaction with fans.
“He’s important to the future of the game here and we’re keen to keep him.”
Tupou and RA are open to a one-year sabbatical similar to that of Wallabies captain Michael Hooper’s in Japan last year.
“That’s one way of competing with overseas dollars,” Rennie said.
“We’re looking at all options that’s going to make it attractive and affordable.”
Tupou said only a “miracle” would see him return for the Reds’ Super Rugby Pacific finals campaign and was again coy when asked what the future held beyond next season.
“Who knows what I’ll do after next year; whether it’s Queensland or … Rockhampton,” he said before bursting into laughter.
“I have to make the decision in the next few months, whether I’ll stay here in the long run in Australia or go somewhere.
“I’ve been speaking to Rugby Australia, they’re keen to have me around for the next few years.
“I’d love to do something like that, I’d like a break from Super Rugby so if that means Japan, rest the body and come back, but it’s up to my manager.”
As for the 2027 Cup?
“I feel like I’m 30 now but yeah I’ll be 30 around then, hopefully still playing good footy and Dave picks me,” he said.
“I’d love to play a World Cup game at Suncorp … I know the feeling of playing in front of a full house there, you can’t explain it, it’s awesome.”
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