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Sport 'Unbelievable' Wales teen so strong her power test scores left coaches stunned

23:56  25 january  2022
23:56  25 january  2022 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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Welsh rugby prospect Sisilia Tuipulotu has been hailed as having "unbelievable potential" in the run-up to Wales' Women's Six Nations campaign.

That's according to Wales Women head coach Ioan Cunningham, who called Gloucester-Hartpury forward Sisilia into his first Wales training camp of the year at the weekend.

The uncapped lock, 19, was one of eight uncapped players to receive the call and one of 21 players hoping to impress Wales bosses as up to six more semi-professional contracts are on offer.

"Her potential is unbelievable," Cunningham told WalesOnline.

"She’s been playing well for Gloucester. She’s brilliant.

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"I remember when I first started doing bits with the team, we did some testing with them, and she tested. Her power scores are through the roof. I think she scored better than her brother Carwyn, actually!"

Carwyn, 20, started at No. 8 at the weekend against Bristol Bears in the Champions Cup, having made his European bow off the bench a week previously.

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The rugby-playing duo are actually cousins but were raised as siblings, living together at one point, with the Scarlets No. 8/flanker regularly congratulating his "lil sis" - who is the daughter of hard-running former Tonga and Newport utility back Sione Tuipulotu - on social media for her rugby exploits.

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"We class each other as brother and sister but in reality we are cousins," Sisilia - who is studying for a psychology degree - recently told The Women's Rugby Show.

"He's taught me a couple of things. Because he's older than me, I do look up to him and watch him play, seeing the little things that he does."

This latest Wales camp is not the first which Sisilia has been involved in, having been named in Wales' squad for the 2021 Six Nations as a development player.

That's despite a relative late arrival to the rugby-playing scene, having not given the sport a serious go in her school years.

Originally eyeing the netball team while a student at Hereford Sixth Form College - Sisilia was told she was too aggressive in her style of play - she fell in love with rugby after a coach invited her to a training session which formed the starting point for her journey to join Gloucester-Hartpury.

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Despite being relatively new to England's top league Allianz Premier 15s, too, the Wales Women hopeful has already made viewers sit up and take notice in recent months thanks to her immense power and ball-carrying skills. According to Gloucester Rugby’s website, she stands at 175cm (5ft 9in) and weighs 113kg (17st 11lb). As for Carwyn, the WRU has him weighing in at 125kgs (19st 8lbs) and measuring 185cm (6ft 1in).

Sisilia has featured regularly in recent weeks, scoring two tries against Worcester Warriors in December - one in particular demonstrating just how hard she is to stop in her tracks. Receiving the ball five metres out, she burst through one attempted tackle and drove on before crashing over the Worcester line despite the attentions of two more home defenders.

Gloucester won that encounter 36-10, with Sisilia featuring alongside women's world player of the year Zoe Aldcroft. The side have won seven games from 11 so far this season, including an early January 36-14 scalping of Bristol Bears, currently second in the table to Gloucester's fifth.

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As for Wales, the forward is hoping to impress to make it to New Zealand this autumn for the postponed Rugby World Cup.

On her aspirations for 2022, she said: "Perform the way I perform, get the game time that I want, it's a World Cup this year so maybe that, too!"

Cunningham and his coaching staff were also keen to take a closer look at their contingent of seven other uncapped players at the weekend, including Llandaff North captain and lock Liliana Podpadec, Lampeter, Lampeter product Sian Davies and Pontyclun Falcons' Lowri Norkett, who has already represented Wales in rugby league.

Such players have been identified via talent ID days, discussions with coaches and feedback from skills coach Geraint Lewis, who is leaving in the spring to take up a new opportunity as a lecturer in sport at Coleg y Cymoedd.

"Sian played well for Lampater, I watched her against Porthcawl a couple of weeks back," Cunningham explained. "I think she scored three tries in the first 20 or 30 minutes. She’s got huge potential.

"Podpadec, she came into our camp in the autumn and I thought she was very good so hopefully she’ll kick on in the next few weeks with us.

"Lowri Norkett, we want to see her up close and person in our environment. She’s strong at ball-carrying, a direct player, which is maybe something we want to grow, around our centre position.

"It’s just great to see these girls in our environment, that’s the biggest thing for us."

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