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Quiet achiever: Tupou puts together career-best year

Softly spoken Roosters winger Daniel Tupou has attracted less attention than almost any of his high-profile teammates this year but the laconic Tongan has still quietly put together the best year of his career.

With teammate Blake Ferguson putting in a monumental effort in last year's premiership run before heading to Parramatta and the club picking up a pair of Test flankers in Brett Morris and Ryan Hall, there were questions over whether Tupou would even see out the rest of his deal at Bondi.

Fast forward 26 games and the laconic Tongan has been letting his footy do the talking in a big way.

Most impressively, he has stepped into the breach left by Ferguson's departure in terms of the dirty carries out of trouble while remaining just as potent at the other end.

Ferguson's 5300 metres at 200 per game was a massive part of the 2018 squad's strength but Tupou has stepped up; his 4268 metres at 171 per game is a career-best in terms of average but easily a career-high total, beating the 3134 metres in 27 games in 2015 by more than a kilometre.

There is also a slice of history on offer if Tupou scores his 16th try of the season on Sunday; having scored in each of his previous grand final appearances in 2013 and 2018, he could become just the fourth player in the NRL era to score in three separate grand finals after Jamie Lyon (2001, 2011 and 2013), Billy Slater (2009, 2012, 2017) and Greg Inglis (2007, 2009, 2014).

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"You could say that," Tupou shrugs when asked by if this is his best season.

"I'm comfortable in my own skin, doing the one-percenters and prepping right, just enjoying the fight.

"All that comes off the back of prepping well and it's paying off at the moment."

Tupou's numbers across the board are good; his 15 tries is just one shy of the 16 he scored in 2015, while his five try assists and three line break assists are both career highs. His 64 busts is his best tally in a season since the 82 in 2015.

Playing outside the likes of Boyd Cordner, Luke Keary and Latrell Mitchell helps.

"It's awesome; there are some big names there but we train as hard as we look and practice those combos and we're not afraid to try a few things," Tupou said.

"Our combinations are working really well and we know where to be.

"It did take a while at the start of last year but we're still building and it's looking good at the moment."

Tupou left his mark on the preliminary final against the Storm with a stunning mark and offload to set up Boyd Cordner for the game's opening try and will be a threat in the air again this weekend opposite Jordan Rapana.

"It's one of our options, I just have to make those plays when they do come," he said.

"It will be important this weekend and I'm going to prep the best that I can and make those big plays when it does come.

"[Rapana] is an outstanding player and it's always a tough challenge against him. I'll do my best to prep the best I can."

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Tupou said he was never stressed about his future at Bondi despite the arrival of two men who each spent much of their careers as the best winger in their respective countries, with his current contract tying him up through to 2021.

"I've still got a year or two left, I'm happy with where I'm at at the moment," he said.

"When we signed BMoz and Hally, it was a good signing for the club and they're both outstanding players.

"For me, I knew I had to train as hard as I could to keep a spot. That sort of stuff doesn't get to my head. I just have to train as hard as I can and take my opportunities."

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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