By Steffan Thomas
Carwyn Tuipulotu – one of the most coveted young rugby players in the UK – hopes he can be Wales’ No 8 in the long-run after turning his back on England.
The 18-year-old is a cousin of England stars Billy and Mako Vunipola while he is also related to Wales No.8 Taulupe Faletau.
Wales have struggled to produce destructive ball carrying No.8s in recent years, but at six foot two inches and 125kg, Tuipulotu could potentially provide be the long-term solution.
“I am very much committed to Wales,” said Tuipulotu.
“I don’t see England and Tonga as potential options for me. I chose Wales because it feels like home to me and the people are so welcoming.
“Me and my family have already moved down to west Wales and my plan is to be involved with the Scarlets A team next season while hopefully playing for one of the local feeder clubs. I’d describe myself as being a good skilful ball carrier.
“Playing for Wales under 20s is definitely a goal for me this season and it would be great to measure myself against the best in the world at that level.”
The Scarlets prospect is the son of former Ebbw Vale and Tongan international Kati Tuipulotu and was born in Abergavenny having been delivered by the wife of Wales defence coach Byron Hayward.
At a young age he was awarded a scholarship at Sedbergh School in Cumbria before being persuaded to join the Scarlets by former Wales coach Gareth Jenkins.
— Carwyn Tuipulotu (@CarwynTuipulotu) December 22, 2019
He said: “When I’m at school I’m trusted to do the gym strength and conditioning programmes the Scarlets have set out for me.
“When I’m on school holiday breaks I go straight into training with the academy and it’s pretty straightforward between the two.
“I have applied to a couple of universities in Wales but my first choice is hopefully to study Philosophy at Swansea University. At first I didn’t know Sedbergh School or any other private schools but I soon realised how prestigious Sedbergh was.
“I county myself lucky to have had the education I’ve had. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given a lot of opportunities through Sedbergh and the Scarlets have a great programme which I think can help me improve as a player.”
Despite his obvious talents Tuipulotu has big footsteps to follow if he is to succeed as a professional rugby player with his cousins Billy and Mako Vunipola along with Faletau among the best players in the world game.
But Tuipulotu is focussed on working hard and is confident he can make a success out of being a professional rugby player.
He said: “I’m related to both the Vunipolas and the Faletaus.
“I’ve grown up with them and count them as my older brothers. I do take a lot of inspiration from Billy, Mako and Taulupe as I saw how proud they made their parents and how much fun it looked being a professional rugby player.
“For that reason I am highly motivated and willing to work extremely hard to make it as a professional rugby player. I want to make my family proud and inspire my little cousins and Billy, Mako and Taulupe did to me.”