After linking up with the Newcastle Knights on a one-year deal, veteran back-rower Anthony Tupou has given a glowing endorsement of the club’s future prospects.
Despite Newcastle picking up consecutive wooden spoons over the last two seasons, and being widely tipped to finish near the bottom of the ladder once again in 2017, Tupou believes they are on the verge of an era of dominance thanks to a squad packed full of promising talent.
“I am talking times like back in the days with Paul Harragon and the Johns brothers, I don’t see it being too far away,” the West Newcastle junior said.
“The boys that we have got, they are some of the best in their age group in the whole of Australia and New Zealand.
— Nothing But Knights (@NothingButNK) February 9, 2017
“They don’t have the experience yet and are probably a year or two off, hopefully it’s sooner rather than later, but when it happens Newcastle are going to be a force again.
“To play with these young energetic boys is inspiring.”
The Knights have some noted family pedigree in their ranks right now as well, with a handful of second-generation players coming through.
U-20 playmaker Jack Johns is the son of club legend Matthew and nephew of Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns, forward utility Zac Hosking’s dad, David, played for South Sydney and Manly in the late 1980s and early 1990s, while 2017 NRL rookie Sam Stone is the son of former Knights and current Huddersfield Giants coach Rick Stone.
Jack Johns is over for the Knights in the NYC! Matthew will be very proud
— Martin Gabor (@MartinJGabor) March 4, 2017
Meanwhile, at 34 years of age Tupou dwarfs most of the Newcastle NRL squad in terms of age and experience, having enjoyed a 12-year career with the Roosters and Sharks before spending 2016 with Wakefield in the Super League.
That means in addition to whatever he brings on the field in 2017 – with coach Nathan Brown saying he is a certainty to feature in the club’s first-grade side – Tupou will play a vital role in guiding the next generation of Knights through their development years.
It was a dream come true for local junior Anthony Tupou when he signed up!
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) February 9, 2017
According to 24-year-old utility David Bhana, Tupou has many of the club’s forwards standing in awe of his ability.
“He is a freak of an athlete,” Bhana said of the veteran of 11 Tests for Australia and four Origins for NSW.
“He is a really good communicator and I think the boys just get a lot of confidence from having someone of his calibre around in our side.
“He has only been training for about a month and he is already pushing and knocking the door down for a spot in the NRL side.
“I have no doubt he will useful for us going forward and will be in the running for an NRL spot.”