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Roosters unleash Tupou 2.0

Roosters unleash Tupou 2.0
Sydney Roosters winger Nene Macdonald has drawn comparison with NSW winger Daniel Tupou following his solid start to his NRL career. Credit: Grant Trouville Copyright: NRL Photos.

Trent Robinson doesn't look like much of a mad scientist. Those dapper suits the Roosters supremo cuts about in for one thing, not exactly Dr. Frankenstein on a dark and stormy night. 

But when one six foot four, hundred kilo plus winger goes down, the Chooks clipboard carrier simply ducks out the back of Moore Park, cranks up the production line, and pumps out another one of similar build. 

Meet Nene MacDonald: the 20-year-old flyer Robinson has thrust onto Daniel Tupou's vacant left flank since the NSW winger picked up a back injury in Game Three.

Standing at 194 centimetres and 110 kilos (a smidge shorter than Tupou, but 10 kilos heavier), you could forgive Bulldogs winger Corey Thompson a double take back in Round 11, as MacDonald skimmed over the top of him like a low-flying carrier jet on route to an impressive debut try.

But the similarities MacDonald shares with Tupou go beyond just their lofty stature, which had the wags of Twitter dubbing the Under 20's Maroons rep 'Tupou 2.0.'

"They're both quiet fellas," says teammate Mitch Aubusson.

"I don't know [who talks more] I'd hate to have those two in a room together, the conversation would be pretty ordinary. 

"They're not big talkers, but they lead with their actions so you can't complain with the way they handle themselves, or the way they're playing at the moment.

"[The most impressive thing] for me was the way Nene handled his first game against the Bulldogs. 

"He was just really confident and there was just no fear in his eyes. He ran hard and tackled hard, and when you're that size that's all he's got to do at the moment."

While MacDonald may not pack much in the chatter department, there's a reason behind the confidence Aubusson and the rest of the Roosters see in the youngster. 

Born in Port Moresby but raised in Cairns from an early age, MacDonald had already represented Papua New Guinea three times at last year's World Cup before that debut game against the Dogs. 

For a kid still eligible for the Holden Cup, where he still ranks amongst the top two for tackle busts despite not having played in that competition for five weeks, adjusting to life in the big smoke proved just as challenging as making the leap into first grade.

"It's nuts down here, there's actual traffic," laughs MacDonald, who first arrived at the Roosters in 2012 after first being signed by the Titans.

"Compared to where I've come from, it's heaps different. Queensland's definitely more laid back. 

"It probably suits me more, but I'm pretty happy with the Roosters.

"When I first came down I was staying with Rohan Smith (former Roosters assistant coach) when he used to be here, and he looked after me really well, taught me well. 

"After a while I moved into my own place in Botany with a couple of the boys and I'm loving it."

Now six games into his NRL career, and likely to get a few more runs yet with Tupou still 2-3 weeks away from a return, MacDonald is starting to feel at home on the end of a star-studded Roosters backline, and relishing the chance to play outside Blues centre Michael Jennings, who he partnered for the first time in the Roosters 30-22 defeat of the Dragons last weekend.

"It was unreal outside Jenko, he's an incredible player," says MacDonald.

"We hung out all day before the game and at training [during the week] we were always talking about what we need from each other in the game, just keeping the talk going with each other and it got me a try, and he got two himself so it must be working.

"I'm getting used to first grade and feel like I'm talking more, and I'm keeping up with the boys much more than I used to."

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