Alisi Tupuailei (New Brighton) Hawkins Medal Player of The Week
Alisi Tupuailei is a living example that you are only as old as you feel.
The 33-year-old centre has been a key player in New Brighton’s unbeaten start to the Metro club rugby season winning four games on the trot.
Tupuailei deservedly features prominently in Hawkins Medal competition for the most valuable player in the competition, for which independent correspondents award three, two and one point at each match to the best three players on the park.
The former Canterbury winger last year returned to his old club after a decade playing professional rugby in Japan, but because of injuries and rugby commitments in Sri Lanka, never hit his straps with New Brighton.
This year, Tupuailei enjoyed a full pre-season preparation to get his sizeable 116kg frame into top shape. “When you are such a big man, fitness is vitally important,” says New Brighton coach Steve Ellis, adding that age is only a matter of attitude.
“It amuses me, all that talk about older players because it all comes down to state of mind. Just look at Linford Christie who won Olympic gold in his mid-30s.”
New Brighton has been missing some of its older players due to overseas commitments and Ellis says that the experience of Tupuailei has been “the glue” that keeps his exciting backline together.
The arrival of young Samoan sevens international Tulolo Tulolo, and other youngsters coming through has transformed the seasiders backline and their style of play.
“In recent past, New Brighton have been better known as a dour, physical team that has been grinding out victories,” says Ellis. “This year, however, we have players with real attaching ability.”
Ellis can barely contain his excitement about the attractive brand of winning rugby. “And long it may continue.”
Photo - Ken Baker Photography