Taufua the 'Grim Reaper' waiting in wings, says Taupau

Martin Taupau has a name for his Manly teammate and renowned defensive hit-man Jorge Taufua.

"The Grim Reaper," Taupau said.

"I said to him last weekend 'How many death certificates have you given out?' He's the one person I would not run at."

Cowboys forward Shane Wright in round 13, South Sydney's Adam Doueihi in round 17, and most recently Parramatta's Dylan Brown in round 18, probably wished they could have avoided a Taufua shirt-fronting.

Taupau, who is not your go-easy style of tackler either, loves watching Taufua size up an opponent and then take them ball-and-all and slam them into the turf quicker than they can say 'What hit me?'.

"He's been awesome. But look at the player he used to run outside of in Steve Matai," Taupau said.

"He was the number one hit man for many years and I think Jorge has taken that title over."

Taufua tells NRL.com that he doesn't think he's anywhere near Matai's class.

"It's just timing and instinct. I guess I kind of anticipate where the ball will land and hopefully the receiver is there at the same time so I just car-crash into them.

"It's meant to end that play," Taufua said.

It most certainly does. It makes every commentator, or fan, watching shift uncomfortably in their seats thinking what their rib cage would look like if they were on the end of Taufua tackle – Grim Reaper indeed.

"I didn't set out to try and earn some kind of reputation," he said, when told that a cult following was quickly amassing behind his hits. Just type in 'Jorge Taufua tackles' on YouTube and enjoy.

"It's hard to put myself near what Steve [Matai] could do, but I guess there's been a little bit of hype around what I do sometimes.

"My job is to defend and as long as we're winning and there's no tries down my side I'm happy."

That's why Storm centre Will Chambers getting over the top of him and scoring last weekend at AAMI Park in Melbourne displeased Taufua greatly.

"Yes … not so much reaping on my part there."

He tries to play down his importance to Manly's left edge where he's been working up good combos with both Dylan Walker and Brad Parker.

He says the players he cuts down aren't the Taupau-type of physique.

"Most of them have been on the same-size player as me – the smaller player so nothing to really brag about.

"It'd be good to get one of the big forwards but they're not often out on my edge."

Newcastle's right edge will be wary of Taufua regardless, when the Knights travel to Lottoland on Saturday.

There's no good beating Melbourne at home to lose then lose in your own backyard.

"It's extremely important we win on Saturday," Taufua said. "You can't just live off that game in Melbourne. Every game has its own importance.

"It will mean a lot more to back Melbourne up with a strong game at home. We'll be up for it."

And after a few years of pain, Manly are finally back in the NRL finals again.

"It is exciting to be in the mix again after the last few seasons where we were constantly scraping to make the eight.

"Hopefully we finish really well. We put a lot of effort into our first half of the season after we put our heads down in the pre-season."