McDonald’s trip that lured Taniela Tupou, ‘Tongan Thor’, to Australia

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It’s been revealed the signature of Wallabies fan favourite Taniela Tupou was secured by Australian rugby in a north Auckland McDonald’s.

Tupou, known to rugby fans as the ‘Tongan Thor’ having been an internet sensation for his big hits and runs at schoolboy level, famously made the switch to play rugby in Australia despite interest from European clubs and New Zealand Rugby back in 2014.

The 24-year-old played schoolboy footy for Auckland’s Sacred Heart College and was highly sort after by current Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, who at the time was the coach of the Chiefs in the Super Rugby.

Tupou, who was 18 years old at the time, told the Sydney Morning Herald he was close to signing with Rennie and the Chiefs after visiting the club on multiple occasions.

“I went down there and watched them train twice and met up with Dave,” he told the Herald.

“He (Rennie) told me he wanted me to stay there and join the Chiefs.

However, after consulting with family members, Tupou made the decision to come to Australia with more opportunities available at the time.

The 132kg prop, who debuted for the Queensland Reds in 2016, revealed he signed with the club during a meeting which occurred at a New Zealand McDonald’s.

“The Waratahs were interested in signing me and the Brumbies spoke to my manager,” he added.

“There were offers but the Reds wanted it more. I met [Reds general manager] Sam Cordingley in an Auckland McDonald’s restaurant and signed my first rugby contract there for the Reds

Cordingley confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald that the meeting took place over a “couple of Big Mac meals”.

“The north Auckland McDonald’s was the preference,” he said.

“I think I bought him a couple of Big Mac meals.”

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