Manly recruit Martin Taupau had a massive game against his former Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.

Taupau plays down 'enforcer' tag

Martin Taupau might have built a reputation as one the great 'enforcers' in rugby league, but it's a tag that doesn't sit well with the Sea Eagles star. 

"The enforcer tag always comes along, but I have no idea where it comes from," Taupau said. 

"I just go in and do my job. I'm just a very competitive person and I love to produce the goods."

The Sea Eagles strongman showed off his unrivalled power with a huge shot on South Sydney's Sam Burgess in Round 5 that seemed to inspire his teammates midway through the second half. 

While the Englishman conceded Taupau had gotten the better of him in that exchange, the Kiwis hard man remembers the tackle differently, saying he simply saw an opportunity and took it. 

"With that shot, that wasn't even intentional. I just saw whoever it was – I think it was Keary – dropped him under. And I was just there at the right time. I just dug my shoulder in and he came up with a fumble," Taupau said. 

"It didn't feel like a good shot, but I'll take that from 'Sammy'."

There have been times when Taupau has gone over the top, such as the high shot on Cronulla's Jack Bird that earned him a one-week suspension. 

He says there is a fine line between aggression and over-aggression, but believes he has found a happy medium over the years.

"You've got to find that balance between being the aggressive, dominant person and being the calm player that you need to be on the field in touch situations," the 26-year-old said. 

"I think I've managed that really well in the last few years. I've learnt to understand when it's needed and how to manage it.

"Doing something like that incident with Jack Bird, people come out and say 'he's a grub, he's an enforcer, it's too much'. 

"But then when we go back to the Sam Burgess incident and I try to be that enforcer to spark something, people praise it. It is a fine line and you've got to be careful."

Asked whether his coach Trent Barrett had asked him to tone his aggression down, Taupau laughed: "Oh please. No way."

 


While he's developed a reputation as one of the hardest hitters at the Sea Eagles, Taupau has plenty of competition from teammates when it comes to the hair department.

Manly's left edge of Taupau, Steve Matai and Jorge Taufau have sprouted almost identical cornrows hairstyles, but the booming back-rower says zero planning went into it.

"I guess it's just a coincidence. We're not copying anyone. It's pretty funny though, because we do a video review and people don't know who we are. I get approached in public and people think I'm Steve Matai,' he said. 

"It takes about 30-40 minutes and I do it every third day, because I obviously have to wash my hair. I spend too much time and money on this. 

"I guess it's just the trend. Look at the 'Hair Bears' back at Penrith with Joe Galuvao and Tony Puletau. I wouldn't say they inspired me, because we're neater now."