Mini-Beast grows in stature at Warriors - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mini-Beast grows in stature at Warriors

By Robert Lowe 12/08/2010 05:25:15 PM Comments (0)

Rookie NRL winger Bill Tupou regards his new nickname at the Warriors as a big compliment.

The New Zealand youngster has found himself being referred to as Mini-Beast, as in the junior version of wing partner Manu "The Beast" Vatuvei.

"It's a compliment, I'll take that," Tupou said.

"The boys are mocking me, called me `MB, MB' but I'm loving it."

Tupou lived up to the billing against Cronulla last weekend, grabbing a hat-trick in a 37-10 win, after going through his first 10 NRL appearances without a touchdown.

He said training with Vatuvei - whose strike rate this year is 14 tries in 14 appearances and who is just five short of Stacey Jones' club record of 77 - had been a great help in his development.

"He's given me tips and he's just taken me under his wing," Tupou added.

"I roomed with him last week and he was like, `It was me, that's why he scored three tries,' and I said, 'It must be'. Being next to him and playing with him is really good."

At 189cm and 112kg, Vatuvei is 6cm taller and 21kg heavier than his junior apprentice, Tupou.

It was because of a hamstring injury to Vatuvei that Tupou was plucked from the Warriors under 20s side to make his first grade debut against Manly in April.

After a brief spell back in the Toyota Cup, he was recalled to first grade a fortnight ago when Kevin Locke also tweaked a hamstring.

Tupou, who turned 20 last month, admitted his season's goals hadn't included being part of the Warriors' late-season push for the playoffs.

"No, I'm surprised because I was just thinking of playing 20s this year," he said.

"Injuries have come up and I've just stepped in and tried to play my best."

Having waited so long to get his first try, he credited the work of the forward pack for allowing him to take his tally to three in the space of just 21 minutes.

"The forwards did great going up the middle and getting the yards, and creating more space for the backs," he said.

"I just got lucky. I just did my thing and got over the white line."

Tupou keeps his place ahead of a recovering Locke in an unchanged line-up to take on Newcastle on Sunday, with the eighth-placed Warriors looking to maintain their momentum for a finals berth.

He is likely to mark former Warrior Cooper Vuna, with Vatuvei up against in-form Fijian flyer Akuila Uate.

"I'm happy to get another chance, but I've got to play like how I played last weekend," Tupou said.

"Hopefully I bring that out against the Knights."

Coach Ivan Cleary said it was tough to decide between Locke and Tupou for the No. 2 jersey.

"To Bill's credit, he really took his opportunities and he was the players' player at the weekend, so they all appreciated how he played," Cleary said.

"As for Kevin, we still have to see how he's going, coming back from injury. At the end of the day, it's probably just not taking any risks."

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