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Cronulla forward Tuku Hau Tapuha will be hoping some home comforts will help as the Sharks look to address a two-game losing streak against Brisbane.

Hau Tapuha has been recalled for what’s shaping as an important match against the high-flying Broncos at Suncorp Stadium – a venue he last played at during the Magic Round win over the Roosters where he enjoyed soaking in the familiar atmosphere.

“I grew up in Brisbane, (came over from New Zealand at the) ripe age of 11 and played all my junior footy here,” Hau Tapuha said.

“I started off at Pine Central there and then started playing at Valleys Diehards from the age of 14 onwards.

“It was an unreal crowd out there; it's a different stage, but I think getting the win was a bit sweeter. It was good being back at home in Brisbane. I loved it."

Tuku Hau Tapuha in action against the Roosters during Magic Round.
Tuku Hau Tapuha in action against the Roosters during Magic Round.

Since that gritty Round 11 win in a game many lauded at the match of Magic Round, the Sharks have relinquished their spot on the top of the NRL premiership ladder with two costly losses in recent weeks.

The first was a shockingly heavy 42-0 defeat at home against a clinical Panthers in Round 12, before then falling 34-22 against the Eels last week.

The giant prop missed that match after being dropped back to reserve grade, but earned his recall after starring for Newtown in their win over Parramatta where he scored a solo try and ran for 110 metres, which included a linebreak.

With a tough task ahead to bring down the Broncos, who will still be smarting after their upset loss to the Titans at home in Indigenous Round, Hau Tapuha knows his side will need to focus on doing what had worked for them previously and had gotten them to the top of the ladder.

“The best we can do is make the best of what we can control and that’s performing week-in, week-out and keeping that consistency there,” Hau Tapuha said.

“What people say outside, we can’t help that. It just comes with the game and comes with the profession. I think a big factor that plays into how we’re going is just how enjoyable the footy is when we’re such a tight knit group.

"When it’s as an enjoyable environment as Fitzy [coach Craig Fitzgibbon] has made it, the footy comes and the results come as well.

"You don’t have to pull yourself out of bed.”

Hau Tapuha said losses helped the side learn and they had overcome challenges already this season, especially after going down to Wests Tigers in Round 3 before going on a run of seven wins on the trot.

“We never really gave up on our faith. We had that lost against Tigers early on in the year and that was a really big reality check for us in terms of where we sat in the pecking order there,” Hau Tapuha said.

“That was a really big eye-opener for us that we can’t take any games lightly this season. It’s still an early stage of the season so we can’t really say much, but the vibe that we’ve got going at the club is second to none.”

Tuku Hau Tapuha with Sharks forward Royce Hunt.
Tuku Hau Tapuha with Sharks forward Royce Hunt. ©NRL Images

For Hau Tapuha – who made his debut in 2022 with the Roosters – this is proving to be an important season where has already played in seven games and won six after not featuring in the NRL at all last year.

The Māori All Stars representative has praised his fellow forwards for helping to work on his game.

“Everyone has played a part in how I’ve shaped my running style, I take bits and pieces out of Oregon [Kaufusi], Tommy [Hazelton], Royce [Hunt], Cam [McInnes], Jack [Williams], Sifa [Talakai],” Hau Tapuha said.

“Obviously, I’ve got to express myself and how I carry the ball and defend but I’ve really tried to take a bit out of each of their game style and try and imitate that and fit it towards how I perform.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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