The Western Force has snared another NRL rising star with the signature of North Queensland Cowboys youngster Will Tupou for the next two seasons.
Born in Auckland, Tupou grew up in Queensland and played Rugby Union throughout his school years before trying his hand at Rugby League as an 18-year-old.
He spent two years with the Broncos development squad before moving to the Cowboys where he has earned 21 first grade caps and scored seven tries to date.
Bursting onto the NRL scene in 2010 he made headlines with a match winning 82nd-minute try for the Cowboys in their round 20 match against the Newcastle Knights at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Despite a bright future ahead in league, Tupou was keen to return to his rugby roots and is excited about heading to Western Australia and linking up with the Western Force.
"I enjoyed my time in [Rugby] League and happy that I gave it a go but playing Rugby [Union] at the highest level is what I always wanted to do and it's something that myself and my dad have talked about since I was a kid," Tupou said.
"The chance to come across and be part of the team in Perth and push to play Super Rugby is a dream come true, I'm really excited."
A member of the 2007 Australian Schoolboys side Tupou is looking forward to being part of a backline in Western Australia that boasts the experience of Gene Fairbanks and Cameron Shepherd along with burgeoning talent including Nick Cummins and new recruit, and fellow former NRL player, Jordan Rapana.
"The Force has given me a great opportunity and I want to make the most of that," said Tupou.
"There is a good mix at the club of experience and youth and I know I can learn a lot while I also hope to contribute a lot as well."
While just 21 years of age, Tupou is a physically mature player who'll add considerable bulk to the Western Force backs with his 196cm and 104kg frame.
"I like running at defences and I also take a lot of pride in my own defence and tackling. I think if defence can be the first thing you get right then the rest of your game can build off it," said Tupou.
"I'm determined to show the club they've made a good choice not only in footy but also outside of the club as well, I want to be part of rugby in Perth and do my bit to continue to build the game in WA."
Western Force Coach Richard Graham is confident Tupou will quickly make the transition back into Rugby Union and said when looking to recruit the youngster it was his size and strength, as well as his football smarts, that made him an attractive proposition.
"I have no doubt that Will could have enjoyed a long career in league and we've seen this year he has been a strong performer for the North Queensland side. His desire, however, to return to his rugby roots is a windfall for us and I think he'll make a strong statement in Super Rugby," said Graham.
"The way he made his way into first team reckoning in the NRL was impressive and if it hadn't been for some unlucky injury setbacks he'd have plenty more games under his belt.
"He is really eager to take the chance to come back to rugby and I think he'll bring a real physical presence to our midfield.
"In recruiting this year I wanted to bring in some physically developed players and Will's involvement in a professional programme in Townsville under Neil Henry will have him ready for those demands and enable him to enjoy success in Super Rugby."
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