City stint boosts Blues-bound Tupou
A stint under Brad Fittler in the City Origin side helped Roosters winger Daniel Tupou produce a starring performance in his side's big 36-4 win over Wests Tigers on Friday night that seems likely to book him a spot on the NSW wing for Origin I.
Tupou had a relatively quiet game in the annual Country-City fixture, although he did produce some freakish play to set up one of Blake Austin's three tries, however it was the time on the representative scene around top-shelf players that he says made such a difference to him.
"It was a good opportunity for myself to get extra game time," Tupou told NRL.com after the game.
"I really enjoyed the week at camp and playing alongside the other footy superstars in the City side so it was pretty good."
He nominated captain Wade Graham and City fullback Matt Moylan as being two of the players who really stood out in his week with the side.
"Especially Wade Graham, he led us by example as captain, and out the back with Matty Moylan. He's an exciting player to watch and I love playing outside him."
He said he was "not at all" thinking about Origin yet, and hadn't yet heard anything from Blues coach Laurie Daley.
"I'm just happy to be playing footy and if that comes off the back that's a massive opportunity and I'll take it, but I'm trying to play good footy for the Roosters and see where that leads to."
Roosters coach Trent Robinson also credited Fittler with helping his winger soak up some representative experience.
Robinson, in praising Tupou's polished hat-trick performance, said the week in the City camp had been really good for him.
"Spending some time with Freddy [Fittler] in the City Origin last week, he came back and he was really good this week so it was a credit to Freddy and the team with City," he said.
It was a timely reminder from Tupou, who despite the absence of Brett Morris (hamstring) and Josh Mansour (knee) faces competition for spots on the Blues wing from the likes of Rabbitoh and Kangaroo Alex Johnston, in-form fullbacks Josh Dugan and James Tedesco, in-form Knights Akuila Uate and James McManus, and red-hot Titans speedster James Roberts.
Tupou's three tries were in part due to a quality game from the man certain to be the Blues left centre in Michael Jennings, who finished with two try assists, and the pair combined well with two other Origin hopefuls on the Tricolours' left edge in Boyd Cordner and James Maloney.
Of the four, Maloney faces the most competition as he hunts a Blues recall.
"Jimmy makes it so much easier for us on the left edge, especially in attack so I just wait for the ball to come and try and finish it. I love playing outside Jenko and Boyd and Jimmy so it makes it easy for myself," Tupou said of the left-edge combination.
Man-of-the-match Pearce said he wasn't naive to the fact his name is being tossed up on Origin conversations but reiterated his sentiment that the incumbents deserved first chance to back up their 2014 success. However he again added that if called upon he was ready.