The NSW Waratahs have added highly-rated tighthead, Tiaan Tauakipulu to their Elite Development Squad for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
Tauakipulu will join the likes of Ben Donaldson, Max Douglas and Jeremy Williams in the group that trains with and alongside the Super Rugby squad across the season.
A product of the St Kentigern’s College – a school with a prestigious rugby history – and a New Zealand Schools representative, Tauakipulu recently arrived in Australia to commence pre-season training with the NSW Waratahs.
Despite his upbringing on the other side of the Tasman, there is an Australian connection for the promising front rower with brother, Keynan based in Queensland and representing Australia at U18 level.
The two brothers faced off in opposing colours in Australia’s Trans-Tasman Shield victory in Hamilton earlier this year.
Tauakipulu arrives in New South Wales with a well-regarded scrum and an impressive frame, which will only improve in a professional strength program.
NSWRU General Manager of Rugby, Tim Rapp said the 18-year-old was a player of immense potential and was excited to see him in sky blue.
“Tian has really impressed myself and the wider coaching group since he’s arrived in New South Wales,” Rapp said.
“His work ethic, application to his craft and overall character will prove a great foundation for him to grow as a player.
“He’ll have excellent guidance from the experienced players around him, as well as Mark [Bell], Matt [Cockbain] and Rob [Penney] as he begins his journey here in New South Wales.”
Tauakipulu said the opportunity to come to an organisation like the NSW Waratahs was an exciting step in his rugby journey.
“It’s exciting to be here in New South Wales and training with the [NSW] Waratahs, I’ve really enjoyed the pre-season so far,” Tauakipulu said.
“I’m learning every day from our physios, strength and conditioning team and the coaches about all areas of the game.
“To be training alongside guys I’ve watched at Super Rugby and Test level is exciting, everyone has been really welcoming and I’m just happy to be here.”