Peer pressure big in the Sharks' pool
HE has been an integral part of the Sharks' forward pack for the past four seasons, but second-rower Anthony Tupou admits he will be under pressure this year.
And that pressure will come from his peers at the Sutherland Shire club.
Internationals Chris Heighington (West Tigers) and Luke Lewis (Penrith) have joined the Sharks, bolstering an already fearsome back row that features New South Wales captain Paul Gallen, Wade Graham and Jayson Bukuya.
Then there is Sam Tagataese and Mark Taufua, who have previously split their time between the front and back row.
If that isn't enough, Tupou, 29, comes off contract at the end of this season, adding to his desperation to play long minutes in a star-studded forward pack.
"Of course (there will be pressure)," the NSW, Australian and All Star representative said.
"But I see it as more exciting than anything (having to play well to get a contract) and not knowing what could happen.
"I signed a five-year contract at the Sharks and knew where I'd be for a long time, so this could be a good thing and it could make me more competitive."
Tupou is in great shape after a horror past two seasons, where he underwent radical but ultimately successful surgery on both knees.
In 2011 he underwent liposuction on his stomach, with the stem cells inserted into the cartilage on his right knee.
Then last year he injured the other knee, and had many talking after he opted to have a dead person's Achilles tendon inserted in that knee to fast-track his recovery.
But after emerging fit from a difficult two seasons, Tupou is now ready to meet the challenges for his position head on.
"I couldn't do a full pre-season last year, but this year the knees feel good," he said.
In other news to emerge yesterday, the Titans re-signed Queensland and All Stars representative Ashley Harrison for two years.
The deal will see Harrison edge closer to the 300-game club, with the 31-year-old sitting on 247 NRL appearances.