Tuipulotu ready to make family proud
Whilst there’s a sense of joyous anticipation being worn like a uniform by the Warrior Nation around returning to the stands at Scotstoun, there’s one supporter whose excitement levels are already at near fever-pitch.
For Jaqueline Thomson, born and bred in Greenock but now living on Australia’s Gold Coast, there will be a particular vested interest in the fortunes of her hometown club this season. The reason? Well, just the small matter of her grandson pulling on the Glasgow Warriors shirt for the first time.
“She is so excited,” laughed Sione Tuipulotu, as he sat down to speak with glasgowwarriors.org for the first time since arriving at the club.
“I’ve actually FaceTimed her a couple of times in the last week and she’s always asking what I’m doing, where I’ve been, giving me tips and so on. It’s obviously all changed a bit since she was younger, but she’s massively excited.”
It’s not just one member of the family that’s excited to welcome one of the newest Warriors to the west of Scotland, however. Having arrived in Glasgow at the start of the summer, Tuipulotu has been catching up with his extended family ahead of the next stage in his rugby journey.
“I spent a lot of my holidays catching up with my Scottish family, getting around and seeing them,” he said.
“One of my cousins, Melanie, is actually renovating a house at the moment, so I went round there a couple of times and helped knock down a few walls – that was a good way to meet them! I went out with my cousin Lesley a few times, too, and it’s just been really nice to touch base with all my family over here.
“I’d never really met them properly because I was on the other side of the world, and my grandma is so excited for me to be over in Glasgow. To be over here experiencing and embracing my Scottish heritage, I couldn’t be happier to be over here representing this club.”
Comfortable both in midfield or on the wing, Tuipulotu is one of a host of players to have linked up with the squad for block two of pre-season, which kicked off at Scotstoun this week.
Whilst pre-season fitness sessions will doubtless bring a grimace to the face of players at all levels, you wouldn’t guess it from the enthusiasm with which the 24-year-old talks about his time in Glasgow so far.
“It’s been really good,” said Tuipulotu.
“I’ve just been settling in really – I’ve been moving into my new flat and unpacking a few flat boxes from IKEA, so that’s been keeping me busy! It’s been really good getting in and meeting a few of the boys, going for coffees in and around the West End and so on.
“Ratu [Tagive] and Cole [Forbes] have been taking me out and showing me where everything is, which I’ve really appreciated. I was with Cole in Scotland camp over summer, so he was probably the first guy I got to know properly. Ratu took me out for coffee a couple of times over the break and Ryan Wilson’s had me over for a barbeque at his place which was unbelievably good of him.”
Yet Tuipulotu had the inside track on a few of his future team-mates ahead of coming into Scotstoun for the first time. Selected in Scotland’s squad for the summer tour, the new Warrior made full use of the opportunity to get to know some of his new colleagues.
“That was awesome for me,” said Tuipulotu.
“Just to be in that environment training and meeting some of the guys – although it didn’t go to plan and we were in isolation for a lot of it, to meet those boys and train with them before coming to Glasgow was invaluable to me.
“Turning up for my first week at Scotstoun this week has been made that bit easier by knowing a few guys already. It’s been really good to meet some new faces too, and I’m loving it so far.”
Let us introduce you to Sione Tuipulotu...#WhateverItTakes ⚔️🛡️ pic.twitter.com/JLoOqrFG3j
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) March 1, 2021
Now, the hard work begins for Tuipulotu as attentions turn to the new campaign. Having been in the stands for the victory over Leinster in the final match of the 2020/21 season, the former Melbourne Rebel is ready and raring to go in front of the Warrior Nation as soon as he’s selected.
“I was really happy to catch [the Leinster game],” he said.
“It was my first day out of quarantine so to be able to come down and see us get the result against those boys – who have been the cream of the competition for the last few years - was fantastic. It was a really good opportunity to meet a few of the boys, too. How they played that night, and how the non-playing guys got behind the team, showed me the identity that we’ve got as a club.
“I can’t wait to run out for this team, and hopefully it’s in front of a full house because I’ve heard the noise is insane! I love playing what’s in front of me and playing a fast brand of rugby, so Glasgow seemed like a perfect fit for me. As long as I’m on the field contributing to the team, I’m willing to do anything I’m asked to do.”