Taupau moves beyond individual battles
Sea Eagles prop Martin Taupau says there's a lot more to the South Sydney Rabbitohs than just Sam Burgess, and has vowed to not limit himself to any personal battles when the sides meet on Monday night.
The Sea Eagles enforcer has taken it upon himself over the years to go after the Burgess boys in the middle of the field; last year's Round 14 clash while playing for the Wests Tigers perhaps his greatest game at NRL level.
Taupau bashed and barged anything that moved that night, scoring a double and running for 139 metres to almost single-handedly defeat the Bunnies.
But don't expect him to single out Sam Burgess or his younger brothers on Monday night as Roosters firebrand Dylan Napa did earlier this year.
"Everyone wants to do that, right?" Taupau replied when asked if he'd take it to the Englishmen.
"Everyone wants to be that one person that stands tall against the Burgess brothers. They've got another 14-odd players as well, so you've got to take in mind that it's not just the Burgess brothers.
"Dylan Napa – a few months ago – did the same thing. I can't really replicate what he did; he's about 10-foot tall.
"I'll just do what I do and run hard and try to create gaps and opportunities for our backs to capitalise on that. We'll just have to do our job individually and things will come along."
Suspensions have restricted the 26-year old to just 13 matches in 2016, but don't expect Taupau to change the way he approaches the game any time soon.
Having played the full 80 minutes in eight of his first nine matches this season, Taupau has recently been moved to the front row where his minutes have been virtually halved.
That doesn’t mean that he can’t still influence a game. With his metres per game increasing to 150 over the past three rounds, Taupau is handling the ball more than he was at the start of the year, and he has more energy to hit harder in defence.
"My aggression, I'm not going to change that. It's just the player that I am," he said.
"I like to come out and try to do my job and be that type of player to bring that aggression. That's what we need; we've got the right balance of players in our team, so I just go out there and do what I do."
The game on Monday will be more than just personal battles, with the Sea Eagles seeking a third-straight win to keep in touch with the top eight.
Any hopes of playing in the finals looked dead and buried a month ago with Manly in the midst of a seven-game losing streak on the back of a horror injury toll.
"There was that thought in the back of our minds, but we knew we could turn it around," Taupau said when asked about fears his side would miss out on the finals for the second time in as many seasons.
"We had to face a lot of things along that path with the injuries as well. I guess we've turned it around and come away with two wins, but it's all about consistency for us."
It's a similar view held by Sea Eagles lock Jake Trbojevic, whose heroics in golden point last week against the Warriors ensured Manly's season was still alive.
The equation is still difficult for the Sea Eagles who can ill-afford a loss to a Rabbitohs side equally as desperate for the two competition points.
"We've been playing some alright footy so hopefully we can keep that going for the next few weeks and get a few wins on the board," Trbojevic said.
"Up in Townsville we almost beat the Cowboys, and we've had two wins on the trot, so it's been really good. Hopefully we can keep building momentum, because we've got to keep winning.
"I think we've got to win six out of seven, so hopefully we can do that because everyone wants to play finals footy."