NRL 2023: Marty Taupau arrives in Brisbane while TC Robati remains resigned

The Broncos are preparing to be without a rising star for an extended period and have brought in a Test veteran to fill the gap.

The Broncos are bracing for a possible long-term hiatus for retired forward TC Robati when Test star Marty Taupau arrives at Red Hill to support Brisbane’s NRL premiership bid.

Taupau is expected to meet his new Broncos teammates on Monday after signing a one-year deal with Brisbane to extend his NRL career.

Taupau, a 33-Test veteran with New Zealand and Samoa, was out of contract and facing the NRL scrap before Broncos coach Kevin Walters offered him a career lifeline last week.

The Broncos signed Taupau to add 222 games of NRL experience to a mostly young forward pack and also provide cover for Robati.

Robati, 21, has been suspended indefinitely following an alleged off-field incident.

This has the potential to leave the Broncos without one of their up-and-coming forwards for a significant portion of the NRL season, as Robati will likely not be allowed to return until the case is closed.

Robati burst onto the NRL scene in 2012 with 10 games but was limited to just seven appearances last season. He now faces an uncertain 2023 as his predicament will see the Broncos down as players for the foreseeable future.

Recruiting Taupau will ease some of that roster pressure.

Taupau turns 33 next month and will be Brisbane’s only center forward with more than 100-game NRL experience, having played for the Bulldogs, Tigers and Sea Eagles since 2010.

He will mentor the likes of rising representative stars Payne Haas, Pat Carrigan and Tom Flegler in Forward and Brisbane’s young brigade.

Backrower Jordan Riki said he adores Taupau and can’t wait to play alongside him.

“It was cool to see him walk around the club,” Riki said after Taupau toured Brisbane’s facilities before signing.

“As a young kid coming from New Zealand and he was also a Kiwi representative it was great to see one of my idols grow up.

“He’s a big man and very difficult to fight, I know. I’m glad he’s on our team now.”

After playing a best 22 games of his career last year, Riki is looking to build on his 2022 campaign after securing a place in the right back row.

Set to play for the Maori All Stars next month, he said he wants to play harder this year as he faces a challenge from returning backrower Brendan Piakura, who missed most of last season with injuries and concussion issues to keep his place.

“Rugby league is a tough sport, it’s very physical, not only physically but also mentally,” said Riki.

“It’s very tiring, but you have to push your limits and know that you can handle it.

“Obviously there will be times when you get seriously injured and have to retire from the game.

“There were definitely some times in the last year where I can admit I wasn’t feeling 100 percent, but you have to go into those dark places to rise above that.”

The Broncos will play their first test game at Wynnum next Saturday when a team of youngsters and fringe players take on the Seagulls at the Kougari Oval.

Originally released as NRL 2023: Marty Taupau arrives in Brisbane while TC Robati remains resigned NRL 2023: Marty Taupau arrives in Brisbane while TC Robati remains resigned

Ryan Sederquist

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