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MARTY Taupau — the strongest man in rugby league — has been urged to continue with his mongrel playing style.
While suspensions have sidelined Taupau for more than a quarter of the NRL season, Sea Eagles players want their enforcer to maintain his fiery, and at times controversial, approach against Gold Coast.
Able to deadlift a staggering 310kg, the 26-year-old is not only returning from suspension against the Titans at Cbus Stadium, but set to start in the front row.
Asked what Taupau brought to a Sea Eagles side battling to end a run of five straight losses, fellow forward Siosaia Vave said: “Mongrel.
“Marty plays with a lot of energy. A lot of aggression.
“It’s great … speed, power, aggression.”
As revealed by The Daily Telegraph earlier this year, Taupau is — naturally — the strongest man in rugby league, with the ability to also bench press 195kg and squat 200kg.
However, the dreadlocked hit man has already been suspended twice — missing a week for a high shot on Cronulla centre Jack Bird, then three weeks for a dangerous throw on Brisbane’s Matt Gillett.
Yet returning to action, Manly’s No. 1 enforcer has been urged to continue walking the line.
Valve also slammed those critics suggesting the NRL powerhouse, who switched from Wests Tigers over summer, was yet to ignite the form that put him among the code’s greatest cult figures in 2015.
“I certainly don’t think Marty’s form has been down,’’ Vave said. “Actually, he’s been one of our best.
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“He mightn’t always be making those barnstorming runs but he’s still one of our top metre gainers. One of our top tacklers, too.
“He’s been real good for us.
“And even though he’s been suspended, Marty has been ripping in at training. He will bring us a bit of mongrel against the Titans.”
Fellow prop Darcy Lussick agreed, adding: “I’m keen to seeing how Marty goes at prop.
“Hopefully he can take those first tough carries and I can then jump on the back of that.”
Both Lussick and Vave also predicted a focused Sea Eagles pack after the playing group, on Monday, went into “lockdown” for a confronting chat.
Asked about the meeting, Lussick said: “It had been coming for a few weeks.
“As players, we needed to get everything out there. Hit some (issues) on the head.
“And we did that.
“No one was attacked but it was a chance for everyone said what they thought. About holding individuals accountable.
“So it was very … people know what is expected moving forward.”
“There was some tough love,’’ he said. “The boys said some tough things to each other.
“We’re putting ourselves in position to win games — we had Cronulla against the ropes, we had Penrith all but knocked out — but then we have these lapses. And it costs us.
“Against the Panthers, we choked. We have to find a way to fix that.
“Manly is a proud club, we’re proud blokes and we’re putting in the work to get better. Everything will be fine.”