Any memories of Bill Tupou’s forgettable start to the year were quickly eroded when he finished the year off strongly in the NRL by scoring three impressive tries in the final five matches.
Tupou arrived in the Nation’s Capital last year from across the ditch after a mid-season switch from the New Zealand Warriors and quickly made a home for himself after a series of impressive displays in the Raiders backline.
This foreboded to a promising future in the lime green for 2014 and beyond.
The 24 year old's year started off well with Tupou proving to be one of the Raiders best at the Auckland Nines and backed up with his impressive trial form however due to the depth of the club’s outside backs stocks, Tupou began the year in the yellow and black of Mounties in the VB NSW Cup.
Tupou was one of Mounties top players to start the year and was the best candidate to step into Canberra’s NRL line-up in Round 4 following an unfortunate long-term injury to Edrick Lee.
Alas, Tupou’s first game for the Raiders in 2014 was one to forget with the talented winger knocking the ball on as he attempted to ground the ball for a try with the game in the balance. Fortunately for Tupou, the Raiders still managed to defeat the Bunnies 30-18.
After his glaring handling error, Tupou was dropped the following week in favour of Sami Sauiluma.
In his first game for the season against the Panthers in Round 5, Sauiluma too had an unhappy start to the year in lime green and found himself dropped the following week; ironically for Tupou.
Tupou’s recall to the NRL line-up began well with the former Junior Kiwis representative gaining over 100 metres in each of the first two fixtures however he again lost his place in the side following two heavy losses to the Sea Eagles and his former side the Warriors.
The Bay Roskill Vikings junior would not play NRL again until Round 22.
In that time, Tupou regained his form and his confidence with Mounties and was instrumental in consolidating the side in the top four of the VB NSW Cup for the majority of the season.
Following an injury to Brenko Lee and the demotion of Reece Robinson, Coach Ricky Stuart recalled Tupou for the Round 22 match against the Parramatta Eels at TIO Stadium, Darwin.
Tupou delivered his best game of the year to date, crossing for the first try of the match and running for over 100 metres.
Tupou was determined to prove his doubters wrong and would not lose his place in the Raiders first grade line-up for the remainder of the year.
Tupou registered under 100 metres gained in just one of his final five matches for the year and his three tries in these fixtures proved his ability as a strong finisher.
His impressive finish to the year saw Tupou selected in the Tongan National side for the Test against the Papua New Guinean Kumuls at season’s end in which he crossed for an eye-catching try.
Tupou’s strong finish to 2014 should give him plenty of confidence leading into 2015 as he looks to cement a regular spot in Stuart’s top 17 amidst pressure from the likes of new recruit Sisa Waqa and the emergence of the likes of Jordan Rapana, Brenko Lee and Jeremy Hawkins.
Average Minutes: 80
Try Assists: 1
Try Saves: 2
Line Breaks: 4
Line Break Assists: 0
Tackle Breaks: 17
Average Metres: 97.3
Average Tackles: 4.9