England’s no-nonsense prop Ellis Genge has seen the viral footage of a 16-year-old Taniela Tupou running riot that first put him on the map eight years ago.
On Saturday the matured English and Australian props will finally lock horns in the second Test at Suncorp Stadium.
Tupou’s arrival as “Tongan Thor” came when footage of the raw teenager’s rugby exploits first surfaced online.
He’s kicked on to become one of the world’s most watchable props, set to play his 39th Test in Brisbane after overcoming a calf injury and welcoming his first child last Friday.
“I love playing against the best tightheads in the world,” Genge, a 37 Test veteran, said.
“I ain’t never played against him, never met him, but I’ve seen his highlights when he was 16 and that, as everyone has.
“He’s a big lump isn’t he. It’s very different, every scrum you’ve just got to work it out.”
England forwards coach Richard Cockerill tips their head-to-head battle could decide the result and, at the very least, put bums on seats.
“He’s exceptionally explosive … it should be a good set piece battle with him and Ellis, so it all sets it up for a nice tasty evening, doesn’t it? he said.
“Let’s look forward to it; we’re an English pack that want to get in the middle of it.
“We want it to be Gladiatorial, physical, we want people to come (and say) ‘that first clash it’s going to be great, let’s go and see it’.
“Let’s enjoy the physical parts, the feisty parts and, within the laws of the game, let’s get into it.”
Genge toured but didn’t play when England beat Australia 3-0 in 2016, a series that included the Wallabies’ last loss at Suncorp Stadium.
They’ve won 10 straight since then, but it’s not even on the radar of the visitors.
“Really? That’s class, a fortress,” Genge said.
“I just remember enjoying myself (in 2016). It was just a mint tour, (I was) 20, 21, didn’t have a care in the world.
“I don’t remember too much about the detail stuff, probably why I didn’t play, but it was a brilliant tour to be part of and so is this one.”