TWO YEARS ago he was a game away from being out of work, now Wakefield Trinity three-quarter Bill Tupou is on the verge of a Super League semi-final.
Trinity will climb from fifth to third in the Betfred Super-8s if they win at fourth-placed Hull tonight. They are at home to Wigan Warriors, who are currently third, in nine days’ time and two wins would see them travel to Leeds Rhinos on Friday, September 29, with a place in the Grand Final at stake.
Tupou is one of six members of Trinity’s 19-man squad for tonight who played in the million-pound-game win over Bradford Bulls, on October 3, 2015, which kept Wakefield in Super League.
He had joined Trinity from Canberra Raiders three months earlier and admitted: “I remember coming in in 2015 and not knowing the whole saga of the middle-eights and the million pound game.
“Playing in the million pound game was an eye-opener, especially for the boys who had nothing if we had lost that game.
“I didn’t have anything lined up so it was pretty much win and stay in or lose and see what happens.”
Trinity have been on an upward curve since beating Bradford and Tupou added: “There’s been a lot of changes since then, different players coming in and whatnot. It has been for the better and we’ve shown that on the field. We want to keep building and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can string a few wins together and make the top four.”
Defeat tonight would leave Trinity relying on Wigan losing to Castleford Tigers on Sunday. Last week’s last-gasp loss to St Helens has made Trinity’s task a tough one, but Tupou insisted: “We were on top for 78 minutes.
“We just need to keep doing what we were doing and hopefully we’ll get the end result.
“We’ve got to end games well and when we’re on top we need to finish it off and be putting teams away instead of losing possession of the ball with 20-15 minutes left to gift them the opportunity to come back into the game.”
Tupou has yet to be on the winning team against Hull, who won 12-8 at Beaumont Legal Stadfium, Belle Vue, in round one and 40-18 on their own turf three months ago.
“We know what we are going into,” Tupou added.
“I think we can do our best and get on top of them. What we have got to do is stay focused for the whole 80 and hopefully we can get the result.”
Mason Caton-Brown has been drafted into Trinity’s initial 19-man squad as cover for Reece Lyne who has an ankle problem.
James Hasson is also in contention and Kyle Wood (leg) is set to return from injury.
Dean Hadley is suspended, but would not have been allowed to play against his parent club as part of the loan agreement between Trinity and Hull.
Carlos Tuimavave, Fetuli Talanoa, Gareth Ellis and Steve Michaels could all return for Hull, with Jansin Turgut and Masi Matongo dropping out from the team beaten by Wigan last week.
Hull: from Shaul, Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Ellis, Connor, Thompson, Washbrook, Michaels, Manu, Bowden, Fash.
Wakefield Trinity: from Annakin, Arona, Arundel, Ashurst, Caton-Brown, England, Fifita, Finn, Grix, Hasson, Hirst, Huby, Jones-Bishop, Kirmond, Lyne, Miller, Randell, Tupou, Wood.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.