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Daniel Tupou delivered a classy message to dropped winger Josh Addo-Carr, telling him he’s “just warming up to his position” while the Bulldog finds his form.
Tupou last played for NSW in 2020 and expected to focus on Tonga’s clash with New Zealand in late June rather than preparing for Game 1 on Wednesday night.
“I thought my time was up,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “Knowing that there’s a lot of young talent out there, to be able to put this jersey on, I’m so grateful for the opportunity that I just want to use it.
“I really feel for Foxxy [Addo-Carr] but I’m sure he understands. I’m just here to warm his position until he comes back to the side. Honestly, I don’t know what to say about this situation, but I’m sure he understands and I know he’ll be back here soon.
Meanwhile, Brian To’o has revealed his plan to stop Queensland’s expected aerial assault, with the unusual statement that he will “squeeze your glutes and hope for the best”.
The Penrith winger, who is charitably listed at 182cm by the NRL, joked that he had dealt with great opposing wingers throughout his career and had a plan.
“For me, for a little guy, I just have this thing called ‘Squeeze your glutes and hope for the best,'” he said.
“That’s pretty much what I say to try to compete. I’ll do my best. Even if you’re taller than me, I’ll still try my best [in the air]. All these wingers are taller than me. I like to take up the challenge.
Daniel Tupou was picked ahead of Josh Addo-Carr because of his height advantage, seen as vital given Queensland opted for Selwyn Cobbo and Xavier Coates, both north of 190cm. Despite the height disadvantage, To’o’s strength in yardage was a key factor in his inclusion in the team.
Freddy defends Addo-Carr’s appeal
Brad Fittler has defended his call to replace Addo-Carr with Tupou in the NSW Blues squad, but revealed his controversial decision caused “quite a stir” among his players.
“[The decision] caused a stir with the players,” he said. SENThe Breakfast Show with Andrew Voss and Greg Alexander.
“[Addo-Carr] is so unique the way it is around camp. But I really feel like it was more a case of Daniel Tupou playing his way – what he did at the Roosters, how safe he is, the way he finishes, the way he brings the ball out of trouble.
“I feel like right now I don’t think it would be good for Foxx or the team to go into the first game. So we communicated and he made a commitment to return to the team and my line with him was, well, he belongs here. So it was tough.
Alexander backed his former Penrith team-mate’s decision, describing the Bulldogs winger – who netted two tries past him yesterday against the Dragons – as “out of shape”.
Brandy explained that he thought the bigger man, Tupou, would be better at countering Queensland.
“A lot of players were picked when they were out of shape or out of shape,” Alexander said. “But they did the job before.
“Keeping in mind what Queensland will choose, we just decided to go with Daniel Tupou on the wing instead of Josh Addo-Carr.
“Daniel Tupou has also been in great shape. He has also been [in Origin] before – he did a great job for us in 2020. I thought he was one of our best players in 2020.
“He’s a great carrier in his own side, he’s tall, he’s a target for our kicks, but he can also defend from kicks.”
Earlier, Fittler had doubled down on his decision in his first interview on the Blues squad announcement, with the manager saying the only thing he found unusual about his choice was the reaction to it.
“I’m surprised people are surprised,” the coach said on Nine News. “He’s been pretty much the best winger for a number of years.
“I’ve coached Toups in the City team and in State of Origin before and I’ve always loved having him on my teams.”
Regarding the selection of new centers Kotoni Staggs and Stephen Crichton, Fittler said their abilities on the defensive side of the ball were the main decision-making factors.
“It’s a pretty tricky position and defensively it’s crucial,” he said. “Our centers will have a big job and will have to make big decisions, but at the end of the day it’s all about the team and I don’t think a position will cost you.
“We’re very confident in the squad we have and can’t wait to catch up with all the guys.”
Earlier, Bulldogs captain and coach Josh Jackson and Mick Potter backed their man Addo-Carr for the Blues gig.
“He’s a starter and he’s a really good Origin player,” Potter said. “I would be surprised if he is not in the team. I would be disappointed for Josh, I hope that is not the case.
Jackson added: “He’s been really good on this Origin team, he’s been on it for a few years now and he’s put on some great performances.
“The energy he brings around a place too, it’s quite contagious, so I imagine that’s something Brad Fittler would want to have in his camp throughout the week.”