Rampaging Tanginoa ready for Cowboys debut
Kelepi Tanginoa will be introduced to the North Queensland public in what he describes as a "shock" inclusion against the Newcastle Knights this Saturday night.
Tanginoa, who will make his cub debut, is a fervent yet softly-spoken youngster keen to become a regular on the Telstra NRL Premiership circuit. And upon first meeting the 21-year-old it is apparent how eager he is.
"I got shocked because I saw in the media my name was named and I wasn't quite sure [if it was real], but then I had to confirm it [with coach Paul Green]," he said.
"My favourite part of the game is playing first grade I guess. I think the dream of every kid is to play NRL and I think it's a good privilege for me to play NRL."
Seldom do we find more humble and down-to-earth young men in our game. He makes conversation about 'the good ol' days' of junior footy and the sacrifices his family made to deliver him where he is today.
But that is just one side of Kelepi. There is another side, and it comes with a warning – as fellow second-rower Gavin Cooper noted last week: do not meet him on the football field.
Ahead of a pre-season hit-out against the Broncos last month, Johnathan Thurston sang the former Eel's praises, bluntly stating "He's an animal".
Green also chimed in, acknowledging his "good rig".
Stumbling and lost for words, Tanginoa got a fit of the giggles earlier this week when asked about what his teammates think of his exploits in the gym and on the training track.
"I'm not sure, I just come to training and do what I do, and I guess they just see what I do, and I dunno.
"I like to run the ball hard and just..."
He laughed, refrained from stating the obvious, and offered: "It feels awesome [making such an early club debut]. I want to do my best. I was really looking forward to it coming this week, I didn't expect it but it has come closer than I thought. I'm really excited about it.
"[Green] said just back my ability, do what I'm best at, and I guess that's just playing good footy and hopefully I can do that on the weekend.
"I want to do the best I can for the club and if that is running hard or doing the little things right, I will do that on the field. But I want to represent the club as best I can on the field come Saturday night.
"My defence, that's a big area that I have to improve on. But I reckon if I can improve that on the weekend it will be good for the team."
Just 13 NRL games into his fledgling career, Tanginoa's portfolio makes for light reading, but high expectations have been placed on the Cabramatta junior, with the Cowboys touting him as a long-term replacement for Tariq Sims.