Taupau faces NRL finals date with destiny

·3-min read

After a rollercoaster career of highs and lows, milestone man Marty Taupau believes Saturday night's NRL semi-final with the Sydney Roosters also looms as his date with destiny.

Eleven years after debuting as a rakey forward under Des Hasler at Canterbury, the transformed Manly enforcer is chasing an elusive first finals win for the veteran coach who he didn't always see eye to eye with.

The 31-year-old only managed 21 first-grade games in three seasons for the Bulldogs before departing for the neighbouring Wests Tigers.

Overlooked for Canterbury's finals charge to the 2012 title decider despite winning all six games he played in the lead up to the playoffs, Taupau had little joy at the Tigers either.

Yet at international level Taupau's Test career took off during his lean run at Campbelltown and Concord, representing New Zealand 24 times and winning the 2014 Four Nations title with the Kiwis.

He was also a member of the World All Stars' triumphant team in 2016.

But playing finals football was what drove Taupau to Manly five years ago.

As fate would have it, though, after appearing in Manly's 2017 qualifying loss to Penrith, the "shattered" hard man was suspended for the Sea Eagles' elimination final win over Cronulla two years ago.

Typically, Manly lost upon his return the following week in the semi-finals against South Sydney.

They not only lost last week but were hammered 40-14 against Melbourne, leaving Taupau with what he hopes is that date with destiny in his 200th NRL game this weekend.

"It's pretty cool situation that I'm in at the moment. It's not a coincidence (that I haven't won a finals match). I always say everything happens for a reason," Taupau said.

"There's many more reasons behind this but just the sole focus going in is winning our semi-final game and I guess the celebration will come in after that."

Taupau conceded he'd had some "tough conversations" with Hasler over the years, both in his formative days at the Bulldogs and now during his stint at Brookvale.

"It's funny now that I was coached by Des over at the Bulldogs and I only played just over 20 games and now I'm playing my 200th under Des," he said.

"I've learnt from every failure. I'm really grateful for the journey I've been on.

"Having played only 21 games in three seasons at the Bulldogs, I guess it would have been difficult for any player.

"Obviously making the move to Wests Tigers and further developing myself as a player and also a father off the field, looking back now at the position I'm in, I'm just forever grateful for everything that has happened in my life both on and off the field.

"It has definitely made me a lot more resilient, a lot more grateful for every opportunity, whether it's good, bad or ugly."

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