Taupau out to earn Kiwis start
New Zealand forward Martin Taupau hopes strong form for Manly in the No.10 jersey is enough to convince Kiwis coach David Kidwell he deserves a starting birth against the Kangaroos on Friday night.
Regarded for most of his NRL career as an impact player off the interchange bench at the Bulldogs and Wests Tigers, Taupau wants to break into the New Zealand side's 13 for the first time since making his Test debut back in 2014.
The 27-year-old has been a mainstay in the Kiwis line-up since his international call-up three years ago with 16 Test appearances but all have been in the impact role.
"Since the start of my career I've always come off the bench to bring the impact and now that I've developed into a player that can start and hold those minutes I definitely want to translate that to the international stage," Taupau told NRL.com.
"It would definitely be amazing if I got the chance to start, it is probably the next thing I want to work towards."
However Taupau is thankful just to be named in the squad with an abundance of players on the cusp of selection. Regular mainstays Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jared Waerea-Hargraves and Jason Nightingale all missed out after Four Nations appearances last season while Tohu Harris is on the road to recovery after missing the first nine weeks of the season for Melbourne with injury.
"There's a guy like Jared Waerea-Hargreaves [that missed the squad], our captain Jesse Bromwich is [back from injury] and a host of young juniors coming through the ranks on the NRL stage so there is plenty of contention," Taupau said.
"I am just lucky to make it and know I need to perform well to stay."
Taupau said he still feels the rush that comes with pulling on a Kiwis jersey or even just entering the New Zealand camp.
"There is just massive adrenalin, it just kicks in," he said.
"Throughout the whole week in camp we talk about culture – who we're playing for and representing diverse cultures, not just New Zealand.
"We all come from different backgrounds and we bring that together.
"The minute we go out onto the field and do the haka – I can't explain it, there is no other feeling like it… just a crazy feeling."
The New Zealanders face a tough task against Four Nations champions Australia even with star playmaker Johnathan Thurston in doubt and Josh Papalii, Shannon Boyd and Aaron Woods all pulling out of the Kangaroos squad in the last week.
"In the Four Nations they played really well and they obviously got us in the finals so that's one thing we are aware of," Taupau said.
"All our boys are conscious of the Australian players so we just have to do everything we can to regain the number one test spot.
"It doesn't matter who they put on the park, we know they've got skill across the board and under Mal [Meninga] he will have them prepared."