Hard-running Manly forward Kelepi Tanginoa has struggled for regular first-grade starts in his five-year NRL career to date but has the potential to be a breakout star at the Sea Eagles, according to senior prop Martin Taupau.
The 24-year-old played 17 Telstra Premiership games in five seasons at the Parramatta Eels, then North Queensland Cowboys, then Eels again before joining the Sea Eagles in 2017 where he only made one NRL appearance.
He was included on the bench by coach Trent Barrett for round one this year against the Newcastle Knights, producing an impressive 113 metres, three busts, one offload and 19 tackles in his 46 minutes.
He backed that up with another 119 metres (plus two busts) and 16 tackles in last Sunday's 54- demolition of Parramatta.
"Kelepi Tanginoa, you can't go past him, he runs like he's shot out of a cannon that kid. I'm happy to have him on our side," Taupau said.
Tanginoa's lack of NRL footy may have been in part a result of him playing in some teams with stacked forward packs but Taupau was confident the Cabramatta Two Blues junior had found a home at Manly.
"In the past he was probably in teams where there were some superstars in the forward pack but now he's established himself here,'' Taupau said.
"He's had a massive off-season, he's been playing really well in the trials and especially in round one, he racked up 100 metres off the bench. He's done really really well and I can see a lot of improvement in him.
"I think he has grabbed it with both hands and he's not going to take a step backwards. He's a really hard man to tackle, he's a ball of muscle.
"He could be anything. He's fit, he's fast, he's strong, the sky's the limit. It all comes down to the individual. He's got some great teammates around him. He's got an amazing family and a lot of supporters behind him so you can't go wrong there."