Head to head: Hiku v Tupou
Modern wingers are fast, agile, crafty and more often than not, the most freakishly talented players on the paddock. The Sea Eagles’ Peta Hiku and the Roosters’ Daniel Tupou are no different, well on the way to establishing themselves as superstars of the game.
It’s been a big year for these electrifying youngsters as they’ve made the step up to representative football, Hiku debuting for New Zealand in the ANZAC Test and Tupou donning his first Tonga jersey in the World Cup.
These selections have been earned by the duo’s impressive performances for their respective club sides. While Gisborne-born Hiku was in and out of first grade last season, he has cemented his place in 2014, starting every game.
He has the most run metres for the Sea Eagles (1550), averaging 119 per game. And although this is down on his average of 143 in 2013, he’s more than made up for it with his eight tries already eclipsing his three in 12 games last season.
Tupou’s form has also seen him selected for City and NSW this campaign, with eight tries and an average of 126m per match (1382) well up on his 2013 average of 94.
For different reasons, both are crucial components in two of the competition’s deadliest backlines. Hiku is Manly’s Jack-of-all-trades, having covered his preferred fullback position (3 games), left wing (2), right centre (3) and right wing (5) this season. Conversely, 195cm Tupou has a stranglehold on his jersey, operating on a left edge of Boyd Cordner and Michael Jennings that has combined for 18 tries this season.
Buoyed by the Blues’ Origin win and fresh off the bye, Tupou will be raring to go. Hiku must beware, but will take confidence from his blossoming combination with Jamie Lyon, who is able to set up tries as well as he defends.